The recent attack by Afghan air forces at a religious school in the country’s northern Kunduz province had resulted in the death of scores of civilians mainly children who were in attendance at a Dastaar Bandi (graduation) ceremony – an event celebrating young men completing the memorisation of the Quran. The horrific videos and pictures of dead children lying in the school premises went viral on social media outlets such as face-book and twitter portraying the disastrous consequences of the war that has taken heavy toll on the lives of common Afghanis. The most striking part of this horrendous incident was that the perpetrators were shamelessly justifying the bombing that claimed many precious lives.
The Afghan officials put the death toll to 70 however witnesses say that at least 100 people were killed in the attack. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani acknowledged in a statement that the air raids had caused civilian casualties, but said that they were aimed at a meeting by Taliban fighters who had gathered to discuss an attack. This is the first biggest attack in which highest number of civilian causalties has been reported. Earlier in 2015 US-led, NATO driven Resolute Support Mission launched an air attack on a trauma centre in Kunduz run by Doctors Without Borders in the same city (Kunduz) that killed 16 civilians and injured a further 37, among them children, patients, doctors and caretakers. Earlier this month, a unit of the Afghan security and intelligence forces carried out a deadly raid in two villages in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province which resulted in the death of seven farmers, including two teenagers.
There is no denying the fact that there have been many attacks that have caused large scale collateral damage but the Monday’s attack in which innocent children have become target had added yet another dangerous dimension to the conflict that will have serious repercussions on the so-called peace process. Even though the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan had said that its human rights team on the ground will independently probe the incident there is a dire the government and NATO forces deployed in the war-torn country should ensure that such kind of horrendous attacks do not take place where there is a risk of massive collateral damage. Secondly, the Afghan and Nato forces should exercise maximum constraint and avoid launching attacks on civilians, even when “high value targets” are believed to be among them as there can be no justification whatsoever for such kind of abhorrent attacks, such as the one in Kunduz on Monday.