US airstrikes early Thursday killed at least 30 Afghan civilians, including women and children, in the volatile northern province of Kunduz, officials said, after a Taliban assault left two American soldiers dead.
Afghan officials said there had been heavy fighting overnight about 5km from the Kunduz city centre, which Taliban fighters succeeded in entering last month before being driven out.
The airstrike triggered emotionally-charged protests in the provincial capital, with the victims’ relatives parading mutilated bodies of dead children piled into open trucks through the streets of Kunduz city.
The air raids on Thursday were in support of US and Afghan forces during an attack targeting senior Taliban commanders, according to provincial spokesman Mahmood Danish.
“Afghan forces and coalition troops conducted a joint operation against the Taliban insurgents. In the bombardment 30 Afghan civilians were martyred and 25 others were wounded,” Danish told AFP news agency.
Kunduz civilians told Al Jazeera the death toll was even higher than the figure given by officials.