'It was a mistake': US admits 10 civilians killed in Kabul drone strike last month

Gen McKenzie says it is unlikely the vehicle hit or those who died were Islamic State militants


Reuters/news Desk September 18, 2021
Afghan relatives gather on August 30, 2021 next to a damaged vehicle after a US drone strike that has come under scrutiny. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON:

A US drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many 10 civilians, including seven children, a senior US general said on Friday.

"It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology," US General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told reporters.

He added that he now believed that it is unlikely that the vehicle hit or those who died were Islamic State militants or posed a direct threat to US forces at Kabul's airport.

A video analysis, earlier, showed the US may have mistakenly targeted an aid worker rather than Islamic State fighters in its final strike in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported on September 11.

Read more: Video shows last US Afghan strike may have targeted aid worker

The New York Times, analysing security camera footage, said the US military may have been seeing the slain Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water, which was in short supply after the collapse of the Western-backed government, and picking up a laptop for his boss.

Ezmarai Ahmadi was an electrical engineer for the California-based aid and lobbying group Nutrition and Education International and himself was among thousands of Afghans who had applied for resettlement in the United States, relatives said.

After the incident, US officials had said that a larger blast took place after the drone strike, showing that there were explosives in the vehicle.

Also read: Blast near Kabul airport was US military strike on ISIS-K: officials

But the New York Times investigation said there was no evidence of a second explosion, with only one dent on a nearby gate and no clear signs of an additional blast such as blown-out walls.

The New York Times noted that a rocket attack the following morning, claimed by the Islamic State group, was carried out from a Toyota Corolla similar to Ahmadi's.

More than 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have died directly from the war launched by the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with casualties rising dramatically after then president Donald Trump relaxed rules of engagement in 2017, according to a Brown University study in April.

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