Senior Taliban commanders killed in Afghan airstrike in Kunduz
KONFRONTASI - An Afghan airstrike targeting a gathering of Taliban representatives in the northern province of Kunduz has caused multiple casualties, officials and local residents say.
Top Taliban commanders were gathered inside a madrassa (religious school) at the time of the attack, a security source told AFP on Monday.
The security source added that the casualties included senior Taliban commanders who were "planning for the next spring operations."
Meanwhile, Abdul Hameed Hameedi, a local police official, said at least 15 people were killed after the aerial raid hit the Taliban in the militant-controlled district of Dasht-i Archi outside Kunduz city.
Hameedi added that a representative from the Taliban leadership council based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta was visiting when the airstrike took place.
He said there also appeared to be civilian casualties.
Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, confirmed the strike but denied civilians were among the casualties. He said twenty Taliban militants, including a commander and a key member of the militant group’s leadership council, were killed in the attack.
Afghanistan’s Tolo News channel has put the death toll at 25, saying the number of casualties resulting from the strike was probably much higher.
A statement from the Taliban claimed that the strike had killed 150 religious scholars and civilians and denied that any of its forces were present.
Meanwhile, Army Colonel Lisa Garcia, US Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson, said in a statement that US forces had not carried out any attacks in the area. "US Forces-Afghanistan did not conduct air strikes in Kunduz province today. Any claims to the contrary are baseless."
Airstrikes by US warplanes have also significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of the Taliban militant group and other terror outfits in the crisis-hit country.
Despite the presence of thousands of foreign boots on the ground, Afghanistan has been rocked by an increase in terrorist attacks, some of them carried out by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group mainly active in Nangarhar province.[ptv]