Afghanistan to investigate deadly artillery attack on wedding party

The Afghan government has sent a team to southern Helmand province to investigate the deaths of at least 28 people, mostly women and children, killed when soldiers fired artillery at a wedding party, officials said Friday.

Gen. Dawlat Waziri, deputy Defense Ministry spokesman, the investigating delegation from Kabul traveled to volatile Sangin district after an initial probe found soldiers had fired at a house from two directions while the wedding party was in full swing on Wednesday night.

Officials in the province earlier said that the artillery fire wounded at least 51 people at the house in the Sarwankhala area of Sangin, where government forces and Taliban insurgents have fought skirmishes for the six months since U.S. forces withdrew.

The head of the army in Helmand, Gen. Sultan Mahmoud, said all soldiers in the area at the time had been confined to their base until the investigation concludes.

He said that no arrests had been made.

The incident happened just hours before Afghanistan's own forces took control Thursday of security after the end of the 13-year international combat mission led by the United States and NATO.

Fighting continues across the country, however, as Taliban insurgents test the capacity of the Afghan forces, trained mainly by the U.S. military but now operating largely without their help.