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Nearly two dozen civilians, including children killed in Afghanistan

Nearly two dozen civilians, including children, have been killed and several others injured when a barrage of rockets fell on a cattle market in Afghanistan’s Southern Province of Helmand.

Hundreds of villagers from the neighboring districts had gathered at the open-air weekly cattle market in Sangin to trade sheep and goats on Monday.

According to Press TV, it was the rockets, fired from a source disputed by the Taliban militant group and the Afghan government, that fatally disturbed the peasant life of the town of about 20,000 people.

A spokesman for Helmand’s governor confirmed the death of at least 23 civilians.

Kabul and Taliban blame each other for the rain of rockets.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban Spokesman, said the Afghan army had fired several rounds of mortars on civilian houses and the market.

A government statement denied a narrative of that sort.

Khushakyar, identified by a single name, said he was trying to sell a calf when the rockets hit the market. He said his two nephews were killed and his son was wounded.

“I saw around 20 bodies on the ground,” he said, adding that dozens were wounded and “livestock lay dead next to men.”

Some local residents said the shelling occurred during fierce clashes between the Taliban militants and security forces in residential areas surrounding the market.

Violence has surged despite a deal in February between the Taliban and the United States. Official data shows Taliban bombings and other assaults have increased 70 percent since the militant group signed the deal with Washington.

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