At least 28 women and children were killed and an additional 16 injured in air strikes this week in Afghanistan, the United Nations political mission in the country said in initial findings of its probe into the deaths.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) urged authorities to ensure independent, impartial and prompt investigations of both incidents, and to compensate the victims.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that women and children have once again suffered so terribly from the conflict,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA. “This is unacceptable. All parties must live up to their obligations to take all feasible measures to protect civilians.”
The incidents took place in Herat, a western province bordering Iran and Turkmenistan, and in Logar, which is south of Kabul on the eastern side of the country.
UNAMA cited a news release issued by United States Forces in Afghanistan that it is aware of an incident in the Logar area and that they have opened an investigation into it.
The air strikes reportedly targeted Anti-Government Elements who had used a civilian compound to attack aircraft.
The UN mission said that it will continue its independent work to establish the facts as to what happened, including allegations that civilians were used as shields.
More civilians have been killed or injured in aerial operations in the first half of this year than in 2016, according to UNAMA.
Initial figures show at least 232 civilians were injured or killed, a 43 per cent increase over 2016, and the majority of the victims have been women and children.