The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) released its preliminary findings on civilian casualties in the airstrike by the Afghan Air Force in Takhar.
The AIHRC said that 12 children, including boys and girls, were killed while 18 others, including the mosques’ mullah was injured in the strike by the government forces in the Hazara Qarluq area of Qulbars on Oct. 21.
The rights commission said the children had been studying with the mullah when the airstrike took place as a Taliban convoy passed by the mosque. Condemning the strike, AIHRC called for the perpetrators to be identified, brought to justice and the victims compensated.
After the news of the killing of 12 civilians, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh had denied the “baseless” rumours and threatened legal action against those who were spreading such headlines. He said that a Taliban sniper unit that had killed Afghan special forces was the target of the strike.
His office later said they had arrested the person responsible for spreading this “venomous and fake news” against the security forces in Takhar.
However, the AIHRC called on the government to not threaten citizens who allege human rights abuses. But to investigate such cases comprehensively.
“The government of Afghanistan, based on national laws and adherence to international law and regulations, is committed to protecting freedom of expression, as one of the human rights of citizens and one of the most important achievements of the existing political-legal system. This duty and commitment should continue and be accountable for its actions,” they said.
Another prominent rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) also demanded the release of the person detained by the government for providing the information about the strike to the media.
Saleh “is trying to silence those who reported a potentially unlawful airstrike that killed civilians, including many children,” said Human Rights Watch Associate Asia Director Patricia Gossman. They demanded an impartial investigation into the airstrike.