USFOR-A PUBLIC AFFAIRS
CIVILIAN CASUALTIES CONFIRMED IN BOZ VILLAGE, KUNDUZ
KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 12, 2017) — U.S. Forces – Afghanistan completed its investigation into an allegation that civilian casualties were caused by U.S. and Afghan forces during a joint military operation in Boz Village, Kunduz, Nov. 2-3, 2016. The investigation determined, regretfully, that 33 civilians were killed and 27 wounded. To defend themselves and Afghan forces, U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense at Taliban who were using civilian houses as firing positions.
"Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives," said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan. “On this occasion the Taliban chose to hide amongst civilians and then attacked Afghan and U.S. forces. I wish to assure President Ghani and the people of Afghanistan that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians. We will continue to assist the Afghan security forces in their efforts to defend their country."
The operation was conducted to capture Taliban leaders responsible for October’s violence in Kunduz. It was carried out by Afghan special operation forces with a smaller U.S. element to provide advice and assistance. Upon arrival at the village, friendly forces were soon engaged by the Taliban from multiple civilian buildings. As the engagement progressed and friendly forces began to take casualties from Taliban fire coming from civilian buildings, U.S. and Afghan forces were forced to request aerial fire support from U.S. platforms in self-defense. Aerial fires were also used to suppress Taliban who were firing on U.S. medical evacuation assets as the dead and wounded were evacuated.
The investigation concluded that U.S. air assets used the minimum amount of force required to neutralize the various threats from the civilian buildings and protect friendly forces. The investigation further concluded that no civilians were seen or identified in the course of the battle. The civilians who were wounded or killed were likely inside the buildings from which the Taliban were firing. In addition, a Taliban ammunition cache was struck and exploded which also destroyed multiple civilian buildings and may also have killed civilians.
The investigation concluded that U.S. forces acted in self-defense, in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict, and in accordance with all applicable regulations and policy. As an indication of the ferocity of the fire faced by friendly forces from the Taliban-occupied houses, two U.S. soldiers and three Afghan Army Commandos were killed. In addition, four U.S. soldiers and 11 commandos were wounded. The investigation concluded that approximately 26 Taliban, including three leaders, were also killed, along with approximately 26 wounded.
It has been determined that no further action will be taken because U.S. forces acted in self-defense and followed all applicable law and policy.