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Haska Mena civilian casualties confirmed, probe urged

Haska Mena civilian casualties confirmed, probe urged

Jan 02, 2018 - 20:15

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Residents of Haska Mena district in eastern Nangarhar province on Tuesday demanded the government to investigate civilian casualties in Monday’s operation of security forces against Daesh rebels.

According to local officials, as many as 60 Daesh militants were killed and another 18 were wounded during air and ground offensives in Gorgorai, Shinkai and Angora areas of Haska Mena district on Monday.

Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, told Pajhwok Afghan News one civilian was also killed and three women and two children were among 14 non-combatants wounded during the attacks on insurgents.

He cited the use of people’s houses by insurgents as bastions as reason behind the civilian casualties.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) also blamed the civilian casualties in Haska Mena on Daesh militants’ use of local residents’ homes as bastions for attacks on security forces.

However, local residents of the district claimed more civilians had suffered casualties than what government officials revealed to the media.

A tribal elder in the area, Haji Hazrat Ali, said air forces targeted a pick-up vehicle carrying civilians – women, children and elderly individuals -- to a funeral ceremony. “One man and two women were killed and another 18 people injured in the airstrike.”

Meanwhile, Haska Mena tribal council head, Haji Khalil Shinwari, confirmed the elder’s account and said the casualties were even higher.

“Many civilian houses were bombarded and in which many people suffered casualties; but we cannot transfer our dead and rescue the wounded people due to the intense ongoing conflict and the aircrafts hovering overhead.”

Farooq Himmat, another tribal elder, also expressed similar views, asking the government to investigate the incident. “What sin we (Shinwari tribe) have committed? Daesh, Taliban and even the government are not sparing us.”

He urged the government to ensure their security otherwise they would migrate elsewhere.”

A provincial council member and Shinwari Tribal Council head, Ishab Wali Muslim, also demanded probe into the incident. He slammed the government and foreign air forces, saying they always conducted flawed operations.

Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said Governor Gulab Mangal had shared the civilian casualty matter with the central government and assurances had been elicited. He also assured of investigation into the incident and promised aid with families of the victims.

MoD spokesman, Maj. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, told Pajhwok that IS fighters forcibly used residents of Haska Mena villages as human shield at gunpoint and used to hide in people’s houses.

“Unfortunately, one civilian was killed and 10 others were wounded during the operation,” he acknowledged, adding the offensive was conducted by Afghan special forces.

In the same district, 16 people were killed in an airstrike five months back.