'We apologise': US admits Kabul airstrike killed 10 civilians, not ISIS-K militants

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Sep 18, 2021, 07:41 AM(IST)

A car destroyed after a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has apologised and offered condolences for the families of the civilians who were wrongfully killed in the strike

A few days ago, when the US carried out drone strike in a residential area of Kabul, the officials tried to prove it a success by claiming to have killed Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) militants. But now, the US has admitted to their lie.

US Central Command commander General Kenneth McKenzie has admitted that the US made a "mistake" by launching a drone airstrike in Kabul’s residential area on August 29. He agreed that the strike did not kill ISIS-K militants, but did take lives of 10 civilians.

"The strike was a tragic mistake," McKenzie told reporters after an investigation. 

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The drone strike was carried out by the US in Kabul, near the international airport. US officials had claimed that the strike was against ISIS-K militants and had hailed it as a success. They claimed to have successfully killed ISIS-K militants who were readying themselves to launch another suicide attack at the Kabul Airport.

However, after the strike, WION surveyed the attacked area and interviewed the remaining civilians of the house. The investigative report, which WION was the first to do, hinted at deaths of civilians rather than terrorists.

Also read | US drone strike may have killed aid worker, children, and not ISIS-K militants: Reports

That strike killed an aid worker, along with his nieces and nephews.

When Zemari Ahmadi pulled his car into the driveway around 4:30 pm (Kabul time) that day, he was accompanied with his son, nieces, nephews and a few other relatives. His 12-year-old son, Farhad, had requested his father to let him park the car. However, when Ahmadi put Farzad in the driver’s seat and switched over to the passenger side, the "American missile" hit the car and a deadly explosion took place, immediately taking lives of 10 people present there.

Soon after, an investigative report by the New York Times indicated the same. The experts from their team concluded that the US may have misjudged Ahmadi and his colleague, loading water canisters in the vehicle, for terrorists.

The US had also claimed that a second attack had taken place immediately after their strike which proved that the vehicle was loaded with explosives. However, an investigation by media houses proved there was no evidence to support claims of a second blast.

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NYT in its report claimed there was only one dent on a nearby gate and the lack of any blown-out walls or any other sign prove that there was no second blast that day.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had, then, refuted the investigations and claimed "the strike was based on good intelligence, and we still believe that it prevented an imminent threat to the airport and to our men and women that were still serving at the airport".

However, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has apologised weeks later, and offered condolences for the families of the civilians who were wrongfully killed in the strike.

"I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed," Austin said in a statement. "We apologise, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake."

The US government is also trying to arrange ways of paying damages to the families of the civilians killed.

McKenzie claimed a white Toyota car was being targeted by the US officials as the intelligence has identified that model as a vehicle for the ISIS-K militants.

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"We selected this car based on its movement at a known target area of interest to us," McKenzie said. "Clearly our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota." 

He also claimed that no civilians were spotted in the area at the time the strike was authorised.

Austin has, now, also cleared the name of Ahmadi and said that "we now know that there was no connection between Mr Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan".

"On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense, I offer my deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed, including Mr. Ahmadi, and to the staff of Nutrition and Education International, Mr. Ahmadi’s employer," Austin said.

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