40 civilians killed as Afghan forces raid wedding function

PESHAWAR: At least 40 civilians participating in a wedding function lost their lives when Afghan security forces struck against hideout of Taliban militants in a building adjacent to the ceremony, Afghan officials said on Monday.

Helmand government spokesman Omar Zwak said the government has sent a delegation to investigate the incident. The Ministry of Defense said it would share the findings of the investigation with the media. It said all civilians killed and injured during the raid were from the wedding party.

“We are saddened and devastated to hear that civilians have lost their lives in an incident in Helmand despite President (Ashraf) Ghani’s repeated call for extra cautions in conducting military operations,” President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter.

The Afghan Defense Ministry claimed that 22 foreign members of the Taliban were killed and 14 arrested in the operation. The statement claimed that a huge cache of arms were also seized during the raid.

Violence is on the rise in the war-torn country as it heads for presidential election September 28. The Taliban have already warned that they will target election campaigns as well as polling stations and warned Afghans not to vote and stay away from election-related gatherings.

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