The families of the victims said the United States killed ‘helpless, innocent children’ when its drone targeted a vehicle it mistakenly believed to be carrying an ISIS car bomb
US officials have admitted a drone strike targeting a vehicle in Kabul last month was a “tragic mistake” after it killed as many 10 civilians, including seven children.
Ten members of the same family were killed by the August 29 strike targeting a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
Surviving relatives said the victims, who were exiting a car in their driveway, died when a vehicle parked nearby was hit by an explosion.
Zamarai Ahmadi, a charity worker, was killed alongside his sons Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 12.
A relative of the victims, Ramin Yousufi, told the BBC last month: “It’s wrong, it’s a brutal attack, and it’s happened based on wrong information.”
Now the US has admitted it made a mistake, following troops being withdrawn from Afghanistan.
“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” US General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told reporters on Friday.
“It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology.”
US Central Command had immediately after the strike claimed it had destroyed an ISIS car bomb that posed an “imminent” threat to Kabul.
But on Friday Gen McKenzie added that he now believed that it 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.
He added: “At the time of the strike, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport.”
The Pentagon was considering reparations for the civilians killed, Gen McKenzie said.
Neighbour Abdul Matin Azizi told The Washington Post last month that the explosion suddenly struck around 4.30pm.
He ran next door to help the family, but found them dead.
He said: “The bodies were covered in blood and shrapnel, and some of the dead children were still inside the car.”
Aimal Ahmadi, whose young nieces and nephews were among those who lost their lives, said he had gone out to buy groceries when 10 people from his family were killed.
He told Al Jazeera they were “innocent, helpless children.”
Another family member, Emal Ahmadi, said his two-year-old daughter Sumaya was also killed.
He said he and some family members were waiting for a phone call to go to Kabul’s Airport after applying to be evacuated to the US.
Mr Ahmadi said his relative Nasser, who had worked as a translator with US forces, was also killed in the strike.
Some of the family members were among thousands who had been trying to flee Kabul after it fell to Taliban rule.
There were scenes of chaos at the airport in the countdown to the deadline for the August 31 US troops withdrawal.
US President Joe Biden has faced intense scrutiny over his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
A terror strike killed dozens of people including Afghan civilians, and US troops outside the airport days before the deadline.
The Taliban swiftly took power and reports began emerging of women being oppressed and retribution killings, despite the hardline Islamic group’s insistence it had changed since its bloody 1990s rule.
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