Afghan authorities investigating rocket strike at wedding that killed at least 28 people

At least 28 people, many of them women and children, were killed when rockets fired by Afghan army soldiers hit a wedding party in southern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, as President Ashraf Ghani marked the country's transition to full sovereignty after the formal end of the 13-year international military mission.

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — At least 28 people, many of them women and children, were killed when rockets fired by Afghan army soldiers hit a wedding party in southern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, as President Ashraf Ghani marked the country’s transition to full sovereignty after the formal end of the 13-year international military mission.

The head of the army in southern Helmand province, where the incident happened, said investigations were focusing on whether the house was purposefully targeted by soldiers in checkpoints at least three kilometres (1.8 miles) away.

Gen. Sultan Mahmoud said that early investigations indicated that artillery had been fired in the direction of the house from both north and south from a distance of three kilometres (1.8 miles).

“We are seeing no evidence that the Taliban can fire from that distance, and as the Taliban positions were only one kilometre from the checkpoint, why was it necessary to use artillery that can travel so far,” Mahmoud said.

The incident happened in volatile Sangin district while guests were awaiting the arrival of the bride at the home of her cousin Abdul Haleem in Sarwankhala district.

The tribal leader of Sarwankhalain, Taj Mohammad, presented 35 bodies to provincial Governor Mohammad Naeem, but deputy police chief Bacha Gull said he could only confirm that 28 people were killed. The strike late Wednesday also wounded at least 51 people, he said.

Abdullah Jan, 12, said he still does not know where his mother is after being knocked unconscious while running to welcome the bride, and waking up hours later in the hospital.

“We were ready to go to sleep when my auntie came and said the bride had arrived. My mother went out to see the bride and I was running after her, toward the door when I heard the sound of blast and some bright flash like a fire hit me,” said Abdullah. Both his legs were broken and he suffered burns to his belly.

“Then I couldn’t see anything. I heard people shouting and after that I didn’t know what happened. The next time I opened my eyes I was here,” he said.

Sangin, in the poppy-producing Helmand River valley, has been the scene of fighting between government forces and Taliban for the past six months, since U.S. forces departed as part of the transition to Afghan sovereignty.

The international mission to rid Afghanistan of insurgents under the leadership of the United States and NATO officially ended on Dec. 31. Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its own affairs from Thursday.

In a televised address, Ghani told Afghans to support their security forces in the interests of building a strong and peaceful Afghanistan.

“If, a year ago today, you had listened to regional and international analysts, they would never have thought that today would happen,” Ghani said. “They were thinking how can a country with the problems that Afghanistan has successfully complete a security and political transition.”

He thanked the international community for the sacrifices soldiers made during the U.S.-led NATO mission. A total of 2,224 American soldiers died, according to an Associated Press tally.

“I hope it is clear that equipping, supporting and strengthening Afghan security forces is an investment, so that the citizens of your country can be safe,” Ghani said. “A stable Afghanistan brings international stability and prevents international threats.”

Just Posted

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

Tips to keep crime at bay this Christmas

’Tis the season for joy and celebration, but the Christmas season can… Continue reading

Olympic ski run designer creates upgrades at Canyon Ski Resort

Jeff Ihaksi says free-style and alpine ski venues are Canada Winter Games-worthy

Updated: Collision expert backs version of crash of driver accused of manslaughter

Daniel Newsham accused of manslaughter in fatal 2016 collision

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Tkachuk’s goal in 3rd gives Flames 2-1 win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal midway through… Continue reading

Women use scent to lure wolf-dog that ran away from Calgary airport

EDMONTON — A woman from Alberta is thanking an unconventional strategy for… Continue reading

Suspect in Alberta, Saskatchewan bank robberies to get mental assessment

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A former Winnipeg broadcaster and journalism instructor accused… Continue reading

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says his government hopes to make legal changes… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $60 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $60 million jackpot… Continue reading

All evacuation orders lifted in deadly California wildfire

PARADISE, Calif. — All evacuation orders have been lifted in Paradise more… Continue reading

All aflutter about our feathered friends

Christmas Bird Count will be held Dec. 23

Baylor ties pervade rape case that sparked uproar

DALLAS — The Texas judge who approved a plea deal allowing a… Continue reading

Most Read