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Afghan Leader Promises Probe Into Civilian Deaths at Mosque

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered an investigation into Friday’s mortar attack by government troops near a mosque that killed at least nine civilians and wounded several others.

Local authorities said the killings occurred in Sayedabad, a district in central Maidan Wardak province, during clashes between Taliban insurgents and Afghan security forces.

“A high-ranking government delegation headed by MoD (Ministry of Defense) has been tasked to thoroughly look into the incident & report back to the president,” said a presidential statement Saturday.

It added that Ghani offered his “deep condolences” to the families of the victims and wished speedy recovery for the injured.

Death toll discrepancy

A spokesman for the Islamist insurgency put the civilian toll at 10 dead and eight wounded, and vowed to avenge the casualties.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemns this crime of the Kabul regime and views it as a clear illustrations of their brutality and merciless nature towards the common people,” a Taliban statement said.

According to the United Nations, the conflict in Afghanistan has caused the highest number of civilian casualties in the first eight months of 2015 since it began keeping records five years ago, though the Taliban is blamed for more than 70 percent of the casualties.

The fighting has intensified and expanded this year to regions of Afghanistan that were previously considered relatively peaceful. Hostilities have not subsided despite the onset of winter.

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