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    Air strike kills 13 civilians, mostly children, in Afghanistan

    KABUL (AFP) – At least 13 civilians were killed, mostly children, in an air strike by “international forces” in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz late last week, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.

    The strike happened between late Friday and early Saturday last week in support of ground operations conducted by pro-government forces fighting Taleban militants in the area.

    “Initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family whom were displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

    The United States (US) is the only member of the international coalition in Afghanistan that provides air support in the conflict. A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) spokesperson told AFP the coalition was investigating the claims.

    “Those who were killed were internally displaced families who had fled the war in Dasht-e-Archi district and had recently moved to the city,” added Khosh Mohammad Nasratyar, member of Kunduz provincial council, saying three children were also wounded in the attack.

    The deaths came as ordinary Afghans continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, with more civilians killed in the Afghan war last year than during any other year on record, according to a UN report.

    The uptick in violence last year coincides with a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by the “deliberate targetting of civilians”, according to the report, mostly stemming from suicide attacks by insurgents allied with the Taleban or Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

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