Thirteen civilians were killed, mostly children, in an air strike by "international forces" near the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last week, according to preliminary findings of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
"The mission expresses serious concern that initial fact-finding indicates that 10 of those killed were children, part of the same extended family...displaced by fighting elsewhere in the country," UNAMA said in a statement on March 25.
It said that three more civilians were apparently wounded in the incident, which occurred in the Telawka neighborhood close to Kunduz city on the night of March 22-23, during “operations conducted by pro-government forces against Taliban in the area.”
“Work is ongoing to verify all civilian casualties that occurred during military operations that were conducted around the time of the air strike,” the statement said.
A spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan said on March 24 that U.S. forces had carried out an air strike in the area, but she said the mission had not confirmed it had caused civilian casualties.
Sergeant Debra Richardson said the mission aims to prevent civilian casualties but noted that Taliban militants intentionally hide among civilians.
The war in Afghanistan killed more civilians in 2018 than at any time since records have been kept, UNAMA said in a February report, blaming the increase on unprecedented suicide bombings by militant groups and air strikes carried out by U.S.-led forces.
It said that the conflict killed 3,804 civilians and wounded another 7,189 in 2018, an 11 percent increase from the previous year.
The civilian death toll is the highest number since UNAMA began tallying figures in 2009.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters