25 year-old Rachida recovers at Kunduz Regional Hospital on March 31, after she was severely wounded in a U.S. airstrike on Aqulabul, just north of Afghanistan's Kunduz City. Rachida’s husband, Abdul Wahid, and five of her six children were killed in the strike.
The day after the strike, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, known as Resolute Support, claimed that the Taliban were hiding in civilian homes “and maneuvered in and out of compounds without any concern for the families living inside.” Rachida and several others present in the village that night dismissed this as nonsense.
The second image shows fragments of what a munitions expert told me was most likely a precision guided 250 pound NATO bomb, almost certainly dropped from an American fixed-wing aircraft.
The final image shows the ruins of Rachida's family house a week after the air strike. They had only lived there a couple of months since fleeing their home in Dasht-e Archi District, also in Kunduz, which had been under Taliban control for a year.
Civilian casualties from airstrikes in Afghanistan are as high as they have been in a decade—even in 2009, when 10 times the number of foreign soldiers were present during the U.S. surge, according to a United Nations report released in April. The U.N.’s human rights unit in Afghanistan documented the highest number of civilian casualties from aerial and search operations recorded in the first quarter of any year—that is, January through March—since they began counting in 2009.
And for the first time, during the first quarter of 2019, “Pro-Government Forces were responsible for more civilian deaths than Anti-Government Elements,” the report said. Of those, international military forces were responsible for 232 civilian casualties (146 deaths, 86 injured). In addition, the report said, almost as many innocent civilians are being killed by international forces (146) as by the Taliban (173). 31.3.2019. Photos: @andrewquilty / @vu_photo. #kunduz #afghanistan @unamanews