Afghan air strike hits religious school, officials say, after Taliban attacks

Afghan air strike hits religious school, officials say, after Taliban attacks

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Kabul: An Afghan military airstrike against Taliban fighters killed at least 12 people, including children, and injured 14 people. It attacked a religious school in Takhar, Northeast Province.

Hadi Jamal, an Afghan military spokesman, confirmed the air strike on Wednesday evening but said it was “not clear if the attack had accidentally killed civilians and children” and that an investigation had been launched.

He did not elaborate on what kind of air strikes were carried out.

The two provincial officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Senior officials in the capital Kabul, including First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, denied that children were killed in the airstrike.

“The news of the killing of children in a mosque in Takhar is baseless. Those who dragged our forces to dust and blood yesterday were destroyed, and we have an undeniable proof,” Saleh wrote on his Facebook page. In a statement, the hardline Islamist Taliban movement said 12 children were killed and 18 others including a cleric wounded in the air strike.

Taliban militants killed at least 37 government forces in an offensive in the past 72 hours to attack the Baharak area that occupied Takhal, prompting government forces to call for air support.

Abdul Qayoom Hayrat, head of the health department in Takhar Province, said that 10 of the dead soldiers were members of the Afghan special forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed that the insurgents are fighting government forces in Takhal.

During the negotiations in Qatar, insurgent violence in Afghanistan increased, which may help the United States find a way out of the longest war.

The United States signed an agreement with the Taliban in February to facilitate a negotiated end to this 19-year-old conflict, and negotiations between the insurgents and the US-backed government began more than a month ago.

But they have not yet made any major breakthroughs.

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