Afghanistan claims killing 31 al-Qaeda terrorists

KABUL, Afghanistan 

Afghanistan on Wednesday claimed to have killed 31 terrorists associated with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in an aerial operation in restive Ghazni province. 

In a regular security roundup, the country’s Ministry of Defense announced the AQIS terrorists were targeted in the Ghero district of restive Ghazni province on Wednesday.

The ministry said Qari Arif, the group leader, was heading a convoy of 31 terrorists, including 9 would-be suicide bombers, when it was hit by the Afghan Air Force.

It asserted a total of 69 terrorists have been killed in air and ground offensives in the past 24 hours.

Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had announced establishment of AQIS in September 2014 by gathering various militant groups.

Afghan officials have long been claiming over 22 local and international terrorist groups, including Daesh, al-Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Tayaba are active in Afghanistan apart from the Taliban insurgents.

Meanwhile, following a string of civilian casualties allegedly caused by the government forces, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday directed security officials to either abort or wait-out a potential target if even a single civilian is present.

Residents in Paktika, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Kunar and Nangarhar provinces held separate protests earlier this month against such deadly air and ground offensives by the government forces.

With the record 3,804 civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2018 — a clear indicator of intensification of violence — the UN last month called for urgent need to seize opportunities for peace.

More civilians were killed in the Afghan conflict last year than at any time since records have been kept, according to a United Nations report released on Feb. 24 by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office.

Among the dead were 927 children, the highest recorded number of boys and girls killed in the conflict in a single year.