More than a dozen people died on Saturday evening when a rocket hit a house in Khashrod district, Nimroz province.
Afghan authorities said they were investigating a weekend airstrike that local officials said killed more than a dozen civilians, including children.
Provincial officials said 15 people died on Saturday evening when a rocket hit a house in Khashrod district, Nimroz province. Relatives of victims and witnesses to put the death toll at 18, all members of the same family in the village of Munazari.
“We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties in Nimroz. We launched an investigation jointly with local officials, ”the defense ministry said in a statement.
Provincial council member Nehmatullah Sediqqi told AFP news agency that Afghan forces carried out two airstrikes in the district.
“In the first strike, six Taliban fighters were killed. The second strike hit a house which killed 15 civilians, including women and children, ”he said.
Nimroz public health official Nasir Ahmad Haibat said the bodies of 15 people were taken to hospital on Sunday.
Another local official, who declined to be named, said the house targeted by the attack belonged to a Taliban commander and that security forces did not know there were civilians inside.
On Sunday, relatives of the victims brought the bodies to the provincial capital, Zaranj, to prove that the deceased were not Taliban fighters and to demand justice.
President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday he was “deeply saddened” by the civilian victims of the airstrike and urged the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation.
But he accused the Taliban of being responsible for the losses.
“The Taliban and other terrorist groups often use people’s homes as shields and are the main cause of misfortune during war,” he said in a statement.
The latest bloodshed has sparked international calls for an investigation into the raid.
“We call for a full investigation and, if necessary, accountability and justice,” the French embassy in Kabul said on Twitter.
Reports of civilian casualties after an airstrike in Nimruz. We call for a full investigation and, if necessary, for accountability and justice. 🇫🇷 supports the government of #Afghanistan in all battles against terrorism, but civilians must be effectively protected. #FranceInAfghanistan
– FrenchEmbassyKabul (@AmbassadeKaboul) January 11, 2021
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report in October that 2,117 civilians had been killed and 3,822 injured in the first nine months of 2020.
The report states that around 8% of civilian casualties during this period were caused by Afghan air raids.
The continued violence has accelerated international calls for a ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, whose representatives met on Saturday for a first session of the second round of peace talks, where controversial issues such as a ceasefire and power sharing should be discussed.
The Taliban were removed from power in 2001 by US-led forces. A US-backed government has held power in Afghanistan since then, though the Taliban have controlled large areas of the country.
Under a February deal, foreign forces are to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.