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US Airstrikes in Afghanistan Kill at Least 30 Civilians

'This was a horrible incident,' said Kunduz governor

An Afghan air force craft flies over Afghaniston on April 6, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

U.S. airstrikes carried out Thursday in Kunduz, Afghanistan killed at least 30 civilians, including women and children, local officials said.

The incident began when a U.S.-Afghan raid targeted "two senior Taliban commanders" in the northern province and the troops came under heavy fire, killing two American servicemembers. Then, the NATO-led mission said on Twitter, airstrikes were carried out  "to defend friendly forces under fire."

Those airstrikes caused the dozens of casualties.

"Unfortunately more than 30 civilians, including women and children, were killed during the fighting," Reuters reports Asadullah Amarkhil, the governor of Kunduz, as saying. "This was a horrible incident," he said, adding that dozens of people were also wounded.

The U.S. military released a statement expressing condolences for the servicemembers' lives lost. It does not mention the allegations of the civilians killed.

"I was deeply saddened to learn overnight that we suffered casualties in Afghanistan," said Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the statement. "The two service members killed and the four who suffered injuries were with Afghan forces as part of our train, advise, and assist mission."

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, a Kabul-based spokesman for the coalition, did say in a statement that "The entire event, both the death of U.S. service members and the civilian casualty allegations, are now under investigation."

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Agence France-Presse and Reuters report that the deaths of the civilians sparked protests by residents who carried the bodies of those killed through the city.

Among them was 55-year-old Taza Gul, who brought the corpses of seven of his family members outside the Kunduz governor's office.

"I am devastated." he said to AFP. "I want to know why these innocent children were killed. Were they Taliban? No, they were innocent children."

Just 13 months before the incident, a U.S. airstrike on hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz killed 42 people.

Though the U.S. formally ended the war in Afghanistan in December 2014, U.S. forces remain and military intervention in the country continues. And though U.S. voters will decide in days whether it will be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to inherit America's "longest war," during this presidential campaign season, "the United States' ongoing military intervention in Afghanistan has been completely forgotten." 

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