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At least 21 dead in air strikes in southern Afghanistan

Smoke billows from a 500-pound bomb dropped during the intense battle for the city of Shewan. During the battle, Marine snipers attached to Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan, killed more than 50 insurgents and wounded several more. (Sgt. Steven R. Cushman/U.S. Marine Corps)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

At least 21 people, including women and children, have been killed in air strikes in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province.

Mohammad Hashim Alkozai, a senator from Helmand, said on February 10 that the strikes, carried out two days earlier, occurred in the Sangin district, which has seen heavy fighting recently between NATO-backed Afghan troops and Taliban militants.

“Innocent people, women and children, are the only victims of the air strikes,” he said, noting that 13 people were killed in one air strike and eight in another.

Afghan forces are battling to defeat the Taliban, which has influence over nearly half the country and consistently carries out attacks on security forces.

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On January 24, 16 civilians from the same extended family were killed in an air strike on a home in the same district.

Eight children and three women were among the dead.