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Iran Press TV

Taliban vow 'serious revenge' after deadly aerial attack in northeast Afghanistan

Iran Press TV

Thu Apr 5, 2018 02:40PM

The Taliban militant group has vowed to "take serious revenge" after a recent Afghan airstrike on a religious school (madrasa) killed dozens of people, including children in northeastern Province of Kunduz.

The group issued a statement late Wednesday saying it "condemns in the strongest terms this major crime and vows to take serious revenge against the perpetrators."

The Afghan military initially denied civilians were among the dead and wounded in the aerial attack which took place in the militant-controlled Dashte Archi district outside Kunduz City on Monday

The Afghan government also said the bombing had killed only Taliban commanders and caused no civilian fatalities.

However, the office of President Ashraf Ghani acknowledged late Tuesday that civilians had been among the dead, and that the bombing would be investigated.

The United Nations said on April 3 it was investigating "disturbing reports of serious harm to civilians" in an airstrike on a religious school in the area.

Local residents and witnesses have now confirmed that helicopters struck the madrassa where a graduation ceremony for religious students was under way.

Abdullah, 40, who lives near the compound housing the madrassa and mosque and was invited to attend as a member of the local community told media outlets that he saw the airstrike happen.

"We were about to finish the ceremony at 1:00 pm when (Afghan military) aircraft bombarded innocent children," he said. "People were panicked. Children and elders were also wounded in the bombardment."

An AFP photographer, who visited the scene of the airstrike on Wednesday, saw large piles of hats, turbans and shoes that were said to belong to the victims of the airstrike. At least half a dozen freshly dug graves could be seen nearby.

Government officials in both Kabul and Kunduz have given conflicting figures for the number of casualties.

Security forces now say the attack killed a total of 57 to 70 people, but local officials believe the number to be higher.

Naeem Mangal, the director of the regional hospital in Kunduz, also said they "have received 57 wounded so far, their ages ranging from 7 to 60."

Airstrikes by US warplanes have significantly increased in recent months against the purported positions of the Taliban militant group and other militant outfits in the crisis-hit country.

According to the United Nations figures released earlier this year, more than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the Afghan conflict last year. While the main cause of civilian deaths was said to be militant bombings, the report said US airstrikes as well as government forces inflicted a rising toll.

US forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled a ruling Taliban regime some 17 years ago. The ongoing war has failed to bring stability to the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces.

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