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Official: Afghan Soldiers Blamed for Wedding Bombing


An Afghan wounded child is helped at a hospital in Helmand province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 31, 2014.

An Afghan official said soldiers are responsible for a rocket attack that killed 17 people at a wedding party in southern Helmand province.

Helmand's Deputy Governor Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar said the soldiers fired the rockets late Wednesday after coming under attack from militants. Those believed to be responsible for the incident have been handed over to a military court, he added.

Rasoulyar also revised down the death toll, which witnesses had put at 26. He said 17 people were killed and about 50 wounded. Most of the victims were women and children.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the shelling and urged the Afghan government to carry out a full investigation.

The incident occurred just as Afghan troops are assuming full responsibility for the nation's security, marking the formal end to a 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan by the United States and NATO that targeted Taliban insurgents.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, which was sheltering the al-Qaida masterminds of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

While the last day of the international military mission's combat role was December 31, about 12,000 U.S. and NATO personnel will remain in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist Afghan police and the army.