30 civilians killed in battle with Taliban in Afghanistan

File photo of an Afghan man and security forces stand at damaged site by an attack in Lashkar Gah city, capital of Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP)

An Afghan official said on Wednesday that at least 30 civilians have been killed, along with 16 Taliban fighters, as government forces battled the insurgents in Helmand province overnight.

Attahullah Afghan, who heads the provincial council, said that most of the casualties- including men, women and children - incurred in an airstrike that hit a house on Tuesday night during military operations there.

A statement from governor’s office in Helmand confirmed that 16 Taliban insurgents were killed and said an investigation was underway to determine civilian casualties.

It says the militants had stockpiled ammunition in the area of the operation, which could have caused civilian casualties. There was also a car packed with explosives that ignited during the strike.

Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed all the victims were civilians.

On the political level, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has formed a 12-strong negotiating team to seek a peace agreement that would include the Taliban in a democratic and inclusive society that respects the rights of women, he told a UN conference on Wednesday.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54