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UN: 28 Afghan Civilians Killed in Recent US Airstrikes

An Afghan woman receives treatment at a hospital after she was injured during an airstrike in Herat province, Afghanistan, Aug. 29, 2017.

Two American counterinsurgency airstrikes in Afghanistan this week have killed at least 28 civilians and injured 16 others, all women and children, the United Nations said it confirmed Thursday.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), while releasing initial findings of its probe into the attacks, urged authorities to ensure independent, impartial and prompt investigations of both incidents.

UNAMA also called for appropriate steps to be taken to ensure accountability, compensation for victims and the prevention of such incidents in the future.

The first strike took place Monday in western Herat province, where a drone reportedly targeted Taliban insurgents in the Shindand district. The attack left 15 civilians dead and four others injured after munitions hit at least two civilian homes in the area, UNAMA said.

The second airstrike, in the Pul-e-Alam district of eastern Logar province, occurred Wednesday and killed at least 13 civilians and injured 10 others. That attack reportedly targeted a civilian compound used by insurgents to attack aircraft, according to the preliminary findings.

The U.S. military has stated an official investigation is under way into Wednesday's attack in Logar, saying it takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and is working with Afghan partners to determine the facts of the incident.

Shindand and Pul-e-Alam Afghanistan
Shindand and Pul-e-Alam Afghanistan

"I am deeply saddened to hear that women and children have once again suffered so terribly from the conflict," said UNAMA head Tadamichi Yamamoto. "This is unacceptable. All parties must live up to their obligations to take all feasible measures to protect civilians."

UNAMA vowed to continue its independent probe to establish facts around the harm caused to civilians from these attacks, including looking into allegations that insurgents used civilians as human shields.

UNAMA warned it already had recorded a 43 percent rise in civilian casualties, including 95 deaths, from aerial operations during the first six months of 2017, with a substantial increase in deaths of women and children.

The latest Afghan civilian casualties came days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his new war strategy for Afghanistan, which will increase airpower assistance to Afghan security forces and raise the number of American troops in the country.

It was not clear, however, whether the airstrikes against Taliban insurgents in Herat and Logar suggested implementation of Trump's plan.