Shared from the 9/30/2016 Philadelphia Inquirer - Philly Edition eEdition

U.N. condemns U.S. airstrike

KABUL, Afghanistan — U.N. officials Thursday condemned an airstrike by an unmanned U.S. military aircraft Wednesday that they said killed 15 civilians and wounded at least 12 others in the insurgent-plagued eastern Afghan province of Nangahar. They called for a complete investigation.

The early morning air attack targeted a residential compound in the volatile Achin district, near the border of Pakistan, which U.S. military officials said they believed was being used by fighters for the Islamic State militia, known in Afghanistan as Daesh.

However, local leaders and legislators said the victims were all civilians, including children and a teacher, who had gathered at a guesthouse to welcome home a tribal leader who had just returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. They were all said to have been sleeping when the strike hit.

Afghan police officials said the strike had targeted Islamic State loyalists, and U.N. officials said government sources reported that several Taliban or Daesh militants had also been killed.

In a statement Thursday, officials of the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan called for Afghan and foreign military forces to launch a “prompt, independent, impartial” and effective investigation into the incident. They also stressed “the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.”

U.S. military officials confirmed Wednesday that they had conducted a “counterterrorism airstrike” in that area.

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