ADDS REACTION FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Scores of civilians were killed in a U.S. drone strike early Thursday in eastern Afghanistan close to the Tora Bora mountains.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of the restive Nangarhar province, confirmed the strike on suspected pro-Daesh militants in the Khogyani district.
Without giving more details, he told Anadolu Agency that civilian casualties are also feared.
At least 30 pine nut collectors were killed and 40 others wounded in the attack, according to Ajmal Ummer, a provincial assembly member.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Director Daphne Eviatar called on U.S. forces in Afghanistan to ensure that all precautions are taken to avoid civilian casualties in military operations.
She said Afghan civilians bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government and their backers in the U.S. military.
"That a U.S. drone strike purportedly targeting IS militants could instead result in the deaths of scores of farmers is unacceptable and suggests a shocking disregard for civilian life," Eviatar said.
Since the end of combat mission in 2014, only the U.S. forces out of all NATO forces stationed in Afghanistan continue to engage in offensive operations against insurgents and provide aerial support to the Afghan forces.
Lying east of the capital Kabul, the Nangarhar province remains one of the most insecure provinces in Afghanistan, with militants controlling some swaths of land close to tribal region of Pakistan.
Recently, Afghan forces backed by U.S. air power managed to reclaim some territory from the insurgents, resulting in deadly clashes in various pockets of the country claiming many lives on all sides.