Afghan air strike hits religious school as Taliban mount attacks, officials say


An Afghan military air strike targeting Taliban fighters killed at least 12 people, including children, and wounded 14 in an attack that hit a religious school in the northeastern province of Takhar, provincial officials said on Thursday.

Hadi Jamal, a spokesman for an Afghan military unit confirmed the air strike on Wednesday evening but said it was “not clear if the attack had accidentally killed civilians and children” and an investigation had been launched. He did not elaborate on what kind of air attack had been carried out.

Taliban fighters had killed at least 37 government troops in attacks over the past 72 hours as the insurgents mounted an offensive to overrun Baharak district in Takhar, prompting government forces to call in air support, provincial officials said.

Abdul Qayoom Hayrat, head of the provincial health department in Takhar said that ten of the dead were members of an Afghan special forces.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, confirmed the insurgents were engaged in fighting with government forces in Takhar.

Afghanistan is suffering heightened levels of violence while talks are underway in Qatar that could help the United States find a way out of its longest war.

The United States signed an agreement with the Taliban in February to promote a negotiated end to the 19-year-old conflict, and talks between the insurgents and the US-backed government began more than a month ago, but have yet to yield any major breakthrough.