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UN: 'Credible' reports of Afghan civilians killed in air strike

The United Nations said it is investigating "multiple, credible allegations" that nine members of a family were killed in an air raid in Afghanistan last week.

In a statement on Tuesday, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it was concerned over increasing numbers of civilian casualties, even as the United States' air force denied the victims were civilians.

Women and children were among those reportedly killed on Saturday after an "aerial ordnance" hit the home of a teacher in Tagab district in the country's eastern province of Kapisa. Six others were wounded.

"All the victims from the attack were from the same family, including grandparents and children aged between two and 12," the statement said.

"UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm."

Mohammad Radmanish, a defence ministry spokesperson, confirmed civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and US forces. He gave no details, except saying an investigation was under way.

The US military in the capital Kabul said it was reviewing information regarding the Kapisa incident, adding it does all it can to avoid civilian casualties.

"We are aware of the UNAMA announcement regarding Kapisa, as well as the Afghan government's statements, and that they're conducting their independent process," the US military said.

"It is not uncommon for insurgents to use these accusations to drive a wedge between the military and the population," it said.
Spike in air attacks

In a strategy aimed at forcing the Taliban to accept peace talks, air raids in Afghanistan spiked steeply this year with the number of bombs dropped by the US air force almost doubling in the first six months to nearly 3,000.

UNAMA's data shows a jump of 52 percent in the number of civilians killed or wounded in air attacks in the first half of the year.

The UN said 149 civilians were killed and 204 wounded during the period, with women and children comprising more than half the 353 casualties.

Since the figures were reported in July, the UN said it had recorded increasing numbers of civilian casualties from air strikes.

The Afghan air force was responsible for 52 percent of the casualties, UNAMA said, while "international military forces" accounted for 45 percent.

The US, which has been at war in Afghanistan for nearly 17 years, is the only international force known to conduct air raids in the country.
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