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US Bombing of Kunduz Last Year Killed 33 Civilians, Military Probe Concludes

Provincial official puts death toll even higher as military claims self-defense as reason for airstrike

The U.S. military bombed the village of Buz-e Kandahari in Kunduz Province in November 2016. (Photo: DVIDSHUB/flickr/cc)

A U.S. military bombing in Kunduz Province last year killed 33 civilians and wounded 27 others, according to a military investigation that concluded on Thursday.

The bombing was not the same one that struck a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in October 2015, which the human rights group said amounted to a war crime, but was part of a firefight waged by American forces during an Afghan operation to arrest Taliban commanders in Buz-e Kandahari in Kunduz in November of last year.

Afghan forces reportedly requested the bombing during the raid. The report concluded that the U.S. military had acted in self-defense.

A province official told the Associated Press that the death toll was actually much higher.

"More than 50 people, including women and children, were killed in the Afghan and U.S. forces' attack in Buz-e Kandahari," said Toryalia Kakar, a deputy provincial council member.

Kakar also disputed the military report's claim that the airstrikes had killed 26 Taliban fighters, saying it was no more than 10. He urged the U.S. military to compensate families of the civilian victims.

Two U.S. soldiers and three Afghani commandos were also killed in the firefight, the report stated.

Among the injured was Mohammad Reza, who was injured when his house was bombed in the November 4 airstrikes. He told the New York Times that when villagers left their shelters to collect the victims, they were targeted again by jet planes and gunships.

"We left the dead bodies and escaped from the area," he said at the time. "I lost my four nephews, my father and my brother in the bombing. My wife, my brother's wife, my mother, and my son were injured in the airstrike on my house."

The investigation concludes after a separate report, issued last week by the Council of Foreign Relations, found that the U.S. bombed Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen roughly three times an hour in 2016.

In President Barack Obama's last year in office, the U.S. dropped a total of 26,171 bombs in seven countries, the report stated, with the warning that estimates were "undoubtedly low."

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