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Afghan officials investigate helicopter wedding deaths
September 5, 2017 / 2:51 PM / 17 days ago

Afghan officials investigate helicopter wedding deaths

CHARIKAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Afghan authorities are investigating an incident in which two people were killed and two others wounded when a helicopter appeared to come under fire from guests at a wedding party near Kabul and fired back, local officials said.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said the circumstances of the incident in Qarbagh district outside the capital Kabul late on Monday were still being investigated and it was unclear if the victims were members of the wedding party or not.

Wedding parties and similar gatherings in Afghanistan, where many people outside major city centers carry guns, sometimes feature guests firing into the air in celebration.

If confirmed, the deaths would be the latest in a series that has seen at least 24 civilians killed in Afghan and U.S. air strikes over the past week.

Afghan officials said the helicopter came from the NATO-led Resolute Support coalition but there was no immediate confirmation from Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul that U.S. or coalition aircraft were involved in the incident.

“We are aware of reports, but have no further information at this time,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Last week, local officials said at least 13 civilians were killed in an Afghan air force strike in the western province of Heart, while another 11 were killed in a U.S. strike in the eastern Loghar province. [nL4N1LF3TJ] [nL4N1LG4VP]

Fears have grown that civilian casualties will rise as a result of an increase in air strikes in Afghanistan following the U.S. decision to step up military action against the Taliban and other insurgents.

Already in the first half of the year, United Nations figures showed a 43 percent spike in civilian casualties, with 95 killed and 137 wounded as the pace of air operations increased even before U.S. President Donald Trump announced his new strategy in Afghanistan.

Reporting by Qiamuddin Shams, Mirwais Harooni and James Mackenzie; Editing by Alison Williams

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