As many as 10 children were reportedly killed along with three civilians in a US airstrike on March 24 near the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, while condemning the attack on civilians on the eve of the annual celebrations of the Nawroz festival, said the civilian killings accounted as war crimes.
“Initial findings indicate that at least three civilians were killed and dozens were injured in an attack that deliberately targeted local civilian government officials,” the UNAMA said in a statement. The victims were internally displaced people. They had left their homes in Dasht-e-Archi and taken refuge in the city.
This is not the first time children have been killed in such airstrikes. In April 2018, almost 30 children were killed and dozens injured when a helicopter of the Afghan air force fired indiscriminately, striking a religious function in the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz province. In 2015, the American special forces carried out another such attack that resulted in the death of 42 patients and medical staff of a Medicins Sans Frontiers trauma centre in Kunduz.
At least 32,000 civilians have been killed, and 60,000 wounded, in the last decade of the Afghan war. UNAMA estimates say that 2018 was the bloodiest in terms of civilian casualties. Among the 3,804 civilians killed, 927 were children.
According to the Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, the UNAMA report released in February 2019, “International military forces in Afghanistan were responsible for 406 deaths, 94% of which resulted from aerial operations.”
These events have taken place even as peace talks continue between the Taliban and the US, facilitated by various regional players. The Taliban too has continued attacks on the government. A day before the Kunduz airstrikes, two Afghan posts were attacked by insurgents in the Sangin area, who killed 48 Afghan security personnel.