Afghan army mortars kill 20 civilians at wedding, officials say

By REUTERS
January 1, 2015 08:54
1 minute read.

 
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LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan - Afghan army mortar rounds killed at least 20 civilians and wounded scores attending a wedding party in Afghanistan's volatile southern Helmand, provincial officials said on Thursday.

General Mahmoud, the deputy Commander of the Afghan 215 corps in the province, said artillery was fired from three directions at a village in Sangin district where the wedding was held on Wednesday.

"What we know so far is that our soldiers fired mortar rounds from three outposts but we do not know whether it was intentional," Mahmoud told Reuters.

"We have launched our investigation and will punish those who did this."

Gul Pasha Bakhtiar, deputy provincial police chief, said 26 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 41 wounded by mortar shells fired from the army side.

At least 3,188 Afghan civilians were killed in the intensifying war with Taliban insurgents in 2014, making it the deadliest year on record for non-combatants, the United Nations said in a report last week.

The numbers are a sharp reminder that the Afghan war is far from over, even as a U.S.-led international force formally ends its combat mission, shifting to a supporting role for Afghan forces after 13 years.

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