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KABUL, Afghanistan

The reported killings of dozens of civilians in Monday’s air raid on a religious seminary by Afghan forces have sparked an outcry in the country.

As the government promised to thoroughly investigate the deadly incident in northern Kunduz province’s Dasht-e-Archi district, Hezb-e-Islami party led by former Mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on Wednesday labeled the air raid as “in-human war crime.”

The Afghan officials insist the raid only killed suspected militants. But local media outlets said over 100 civilians were killed in the deadly air raid on the religious seminary, which was adjacent to a mosque, in the Taliban-controlled area of Dasht-e-Archi district.

“The entire Afghan nation believe that blasts in cities and mosques, targeted killing of Ulema (religious scholars] and Jihadi leaders, bombardment on seminaries was carried out from one address that wanted the continuation of war and considered peace something against their interests,” the Hezb-e-Islami noted blaming elements within the government for fueling the conflict.

According to the Afghan military, an alleged gathering of the Taliban’s Quetta Shura had been hit during an air raid this morning in Dasht-e-Archi district.

“In the air raids by the Afghan Air Force at around 11 a.m.[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip][0630 GMT],[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]15 Taliban terrorists, including a member of the Quetta Shura, Mawlawi Baryal, were killed and 10 others wounded,” the statement said about Monday’s deadly raid.

The images of children from the religious ceremony at the facility in Dasht-e-Archi wearing traditional turbans and the ones after the raid with blood-littered bodies have been widely circulated on the social media.

Angry Afghans have blasted the Kabul government and its western-backers on the social media while the local print media has dubbed the lethal bombing in a public place as a “catastrophic mistake”.

A number of civil society organizations are backing reports of civilian casualties.

Qareebur Rehman, a member of the Justice and Security for Civilians, told Anadolu Agency their findings indicate that up to 300 people, mostly civilians were present in the seminary when the attack took place, and around 50 civilians lost their lives in the raid.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani chaired a late-evening National Security Council meeting over the matter on Tuesday. Flanked by top government officials, including power-sharing Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, ministers and senior advisers, Ghani ordered comprehensive investigations into the incident.

Backed by American military’s airpower, the Afghan forces have launched an extensive military campaign against the Taliban who have so far not responded to the landmark peace offer extended by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in February.

Kunduz remains one of the strongest bastions for the Taliban. The provincial capital of the province twice briefly fell to the Taliban in the past three years.

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