35 people at wedding party killed during nearby Afghan army raid

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Kabul

At least 35 civilians attending a wedding party were killed and 13 others wounded by explosions and gunfire during a raid by the United States-backed Afghan government forces on a nearby militant hideout, two officials in southern Helmand province said on Monday.
The officials said the house being used by the Taliban to train suicide bombers was located adjacent to the bride’s home that came under fire during Sunday night’s attack.
A senior Afghan Defence Ministry official said the raid was against “a foreign terrorist group actively engaged in organising terrorist attacks”.
“During the operation, a large warehouse of the terrorists’ supplies and equipment was also demolished,” the official said. A second Afghan Defence Ministry official said a foreign militant detonated a suicide vest that killed him and others around him, including a woman.
“The compound was being used to train men and women who were willing to become suicide bombers, we raided it. We are aware that civilians were injured in the attack,” he said.
Attaullah Afghan, a member of the Helmand provincial council member, said 35 civilians attending the wedding party near to the attack site in the Khaksar area of Musa Qala district were killed and 13 were injured. A second provincial council member, Abdul Majid Akhundzadah, said 40 people, all civilians.
The defence ministry said the Taliban hideout was also used by foreign nationals working for the hardline group. “As a result of a joint operation in Musa Qala district of Helmand, 22 Taliban members were killed and 14 others arrested,” the ministry said in a statement.
Bombing, air strikes and ground clashes between Afghan forces and hardline groups have intensified following the collapse of the US-Taliban talks and ahead of the presidential polls next week. -— Reuters

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