Commission appointed to probe Achin airstrike: MoD
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Thursday said yesterday’s drone strike in the Achin district of eastern Nangarhar province was carried out on Islamic State or Daesh centres based on intelligence information.
The early Wednesday’s morning US drone strike hit a house in the district, with local officials saying killed 18 Daesh militants and four civilians. But local residents said all those killed were civilians.
The MoD in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out on the basis of Afghan and American intelligence gathering and after accurate assessment.
The statement said a number of people were killed and wounded in the blitz but as some media outlets had reported civilian casualties in the strikes, the Ministry of Defence had appointed a commission to investigate the claims.
Meanwhile, the Nangarhar governor’s house in a statement said a delegation sent to the area for investigation had found that those killed and wounded in the airstrikes in Achin were Daesh affiliates.
The delegation met Governor Salim Khan Kunduz on Wednesday evening and apprised him about its investigation into the airstrikes, the statement said.
It said the Daesh affiliates had gathered in the area to congratulate a local resident, Haji Raees, on the performance of hajj. Raees was accused of facilitating Daesh militants.
The airstrikes killed 18 Daesh militants, including a key commander Hamza and campaigner Haji Mohammad and injured five others, the statement quoted the investigation team as telling the governor.
The statement said five civilians had allegedly also suffered casualties in the attack and further investigation in this regard was underway.
The governor’s house said there were no women or children among the dead and wounded.
However, a lawmaker from Nangarhar Asmat Shinwari rejected the governor’s house report as incorrect and called the findings a sheer violation of the victims’ rights.
The lower house member told Pajhwok Afghan News all those killed and wounded in the drone strike in Achin were civilians and he was ready to prove their innocence.
“If they were Daesh, why they were not hit on the way? Some of them had come from Haska Mena district, some from Rodat and others from Nazyan district.”
The MP asked the government to explain why it issued passport and visa to Haji Raees for the performance of hajj pilgrimage if he was really a facilitator of Daesh.
“Why he was not arrested during his journey to Saudi Arabia,” asked the MP who threatened huge protest rallies if the government did not come with a satisfactory answer.
The US forces from their media office in Kabul once again said in a statement that “Nangahar has been a focus for Daesh activity since 2015.”
“Daesh seek to use the area to train, equip, disseminate propaganda, and expand their control over innocent Afghans,” the US force Afghanistan said in the statement.
“Our Afghan partners, especially their special forces, have been working diligently to disrupt and destroy Daesh in southern Nangarhar, and we continue to work alongside them to support their efforts,” it added.
The ANDSF have significantly reduced Daesh presence and inflicted hundreds of casualties on them. In addition and as part of US unilateral counter-terrorism operations, US forces also killed their leader in Afghanistan, Hafiz Sayed Khan, in late July.
“Daesh is killing innocent Afghan men, women, and children. They continue to put innocent lives at risk by deliberately surrounding themselves with civilians and dressing in female attire. We have repeatedly said that we will target Daesh wherever they are in order to disrupt their operations, degrade their attack networks, and protect innocent lives.”
The US forces said they won't discuss the details of the specific counter-terrorism operation conducted in Nangarhar on Wednesday because they were still reviewing all materials related to the strike.
“We take every possible measure to avoid civilian casualties in these operations, and will continue to work with Afghan authorities to determine if there is cause for additional investigation as we partner with the Afghan government in the broader fight against terrorism.”
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