Afghan Airstrike Kills Dozen in Helmand, Many Civilians Slain

Military disputes exact number of civilians among those slain

Afghan forces carried out an airstrike against a military base in the Helmand Province, killing dozens of people. The locals in the attacked area reported a number of civilians were among the slain, though numbers seem to be in dispute.

The base had fallen to the Taliban recently, and the Afghan military reported that they attacked because of ongoing looting. The military claimed there were 20 Taliban killed, and also civilians who were trying to loot.

Ransacking bases is where the Taliban gets almost all of its gear after decades of war, and it seems unlikely that the Taliban wouldn’t have already looted the base the moment it fell instead of waiting days for an airstrike.

The Taliban says that the airstrike killed only civilians, and their statement put the estimate at 30. Provincial officials didn’t provide an exact number, but also reported that everyone killed was a civilian.

Residents said around 80 civilians were near the base at the time of the attack, many were on the highway. In addition to killing a number of civilians, the attack also reportedly set fire to a number of trucks and oil tankers in the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.