KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States military investigation into claims of civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and American forces found that 33 civilians were killed and 27 others were wounded during a firefight and airstrikes in Kunduz Province last year, American military officials said on Thursday.
In early November, Afghan Special Forces, accompanied by United States advisers, came under intense fire during an operation to arrest Taliban commanders in Boz Qandahari, a village in Kunduz, the American military command in Afghanistan said in a statement. They were forced to request United States airstrikes, which resulted in some of the civilian casualties.
Two United States soldiers and three Afghan commandos were killed in the fighting, and four United States soldiers and 11 commandos were wounded, the statement said.
“Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of American forces in Afghanistan. “On this occasion, the Taliban chose to hide amongst civilians and then attacked Afghan and U.S. forces.”
“I wish to assure President Ghani and the people of Afghanistan that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians,” he added.
After the battle in Kunduz, a New York Times reporter counted 22 bodies being brought into the city on the way to the hospital there. Among them were 14 children, four women, two older men and two men of fighting age. They were accompanied by a large group of protesters from Boz Qandahari, the village that was hit.