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Afghan air strike targeting Taliban causes many casualties -officials

by Reuters
Monday, 2 April 2018 14:19 GMT

Afghan police officers keep watch at their forward base on the outskirts of Kunduz province, Afghanistan November 26, 2017. Picture taken November 26, 2017. REUTERS/Nasir Wakif

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KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, April 2 (Reuters) - An Afghan forces air strike on a gathering of Taliban representatives in the northern province of Kunduz on Monday caused numerous casualties, including civilians, officials said.

Abdul Hameed Hameedi, a local police official, said the strike in Dasht-i Archi district outside Kunduz city hit a gathering of Taliban fighters preparing an operation, killing 15 and wounding 10.

A representative from the Taliban leadership council based in the Pakistani city of Quetta was visiting when the air strike took place, he said.

He said there also appeared to be civilian casualties but he had no details.

Local people said the strike had hit a mosque and that a number of civilians had been killed and wounded. Dasht-i Archi has been largely under the control of Taliban fighters and many details about the strike were unclear.

A statement from the Taliban said the strike killed 150 religious scholars and civilians and denied that any of its forces were present.

Army Colonel Lisa Garcia, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson, said U.S. forces had not carried out any attacks in the area.

"U.S. Forces-Afghanistan did not conduct air strikes in Kunduz province today. Any claims to the contrary are baseless," she said in an emailed statement.

(Reporting by Sardar Razmal; writing by James Mackenzie Editing by Gareth Jones)

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