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How bombardment on Dashti Archi seminary unfolded

How bombardment on Dashti Archi seminary unfolded

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Apr 05, 2018 - 22:48

KUNDUZ CITY (Pajhwok): Two aircraft shelled Darul Uloom Hashimia Omaria in Dashti Archi district of northern Kunduz province for 20 minutes on Monday, leaving more than ‘100’ people dead and wounded, mostly pupils, the seminary’s administrator has said.

A number of people were attending graduation ceremony for six memorizers of the holy Quraninfo-icon at the religious school in Daftani village when bombs were dropped from the air, said Mualvi Mukhtar, the seminary administrator.

A Pajhwok reporter was among a group of journalists who travelled to the Dashti Archi district from Kunduz City, the provincial capital, to collect accurate information about casualties.

Local Talibaninfo-icon and residents told the reporters that all those killed and wounded in the airstrike were civilians.

But government officials say a number of Taliban’s senior leaders and the group’s red unit members were also killed in the attack.

Taliban’s email to the media

A day after the incident (Tuesday), Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in an email said the media should watch the incident from close and investigate it.

He said the Taliban would cooperate with journalists who would face no problem while traveling.

On Wednesday, a number of journalists traveled to Dashti Archi district and talked with people face to face.

The trip

Shortly after 10am Wednesday, journalists from Pajhwok, Killid Radio, Tolo, Aryana and Arzo media outlets started their journey from Kunduz City to Dasht-i-Archi district.

The trip was shared with Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who then tasked a person, Mullahinfo-icon Shakir (not a real name) to be in contact with the journalists and help them in case of need.

The reporters started their journey after contacting Mullah Shahkir and it was then 12pm when they met Mullah Shakir.

Shakir accompanied by two armed men with walkie-talkies in their hands welcomed the journalists. Shakir told the journalists to name one of them as their leader. They named Pajhwok reporter Ajmal Kakar.

Shakir took the journalists to a local Taliban commander who did not introduce himself but insisted on publishing facts.

Darul Uloom Hashimia Omaria

Shakir led the journalists to Daftani village where the seminary was located. The seminary’s signboard reads “Darul Uloom Hashimia Omaria.” The structure’s window glasses had been broken as a result of the airstrike and signs of blood could be seen on the walls.

Dozens of blood-soaked caps, turbans and shoes were also seen in the yard of the seminary where some people standing around the remains were crying.

Local residents’ views about the attack

Among the people gathered at the seminary, the Taliban authorized only two persons to speak to the reporters about the incident. One of them was Mualvi Mukhtar, the seminary’s in-charge.

Mualvi Mukhtar said a graduation ceremony for six Quran memorizers had been organized on Monday (April 2) when the airstrike hit the participants.

Guests from capital Kabulinfo-icon, Kunduz, Baghlan and other areas of the country had been invited to the ceremony, he added.

“It the ceremony was about to end when two airplanes came and bombarded the people, the shelling continued for 20 minutes,” he claimed.

He said no Taliban officials were present in the ceremony but a few ordinary Taliban militants had been guarding the event.

He said more than 100 people, most of them children, suffered casualties in the incident.

The second person, a tribal elder, Niyaz Mohammad, also told reporters that all those killed in the airstrike were civilians. “I went to check dishes as we were preparing for meal after the ceremony when the airplanes shelled the participants.”

Naqibullah, another resident, yielded loudly and said he lost his brother in the airstrike. “My 18 years old brother was martyred and now the government is offering compensation, we don’t need compensation, I want my brother back.”

The Daftani Cemetery

The Taliban have been in control of Daftani village of Dasht-i-Archi over the past seven years.

After talks with local people, the Taliban showed the reporters Daftani cemetery where at least seven people had been recently buried and the size of the graves indicated they were children.

Government Response

Ghulam Hazrat Karim, spokesman for the Shaheen Military Corps 20th division, said the Taliban had gathered in the area that was attacked. 

“Taliban member of Quetta Shurainfo-icon Baryalai and some other Taliban leaders were killed in the airstrike,” he said. He alleged the Taliban opened fire at common people after the airstrike.

Defence Ministry’s Spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammad Radmnish said the airstrike targeted a Taliban training centre and militants had been killed there.  He claimed 20 militants had been killed and 20 others injured in the airstrike.

Kunduz Governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi said the Dasht-i-Arch incident would be investigated transparently. “The killing of innocent and unarmed people is not acceptable,” said the governor.

Dasht-i-Archi district is situated 70 kilometers north of Kunduz City and most of its villages are under Taliban control.

mds/nh/ma

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