Reports indicate drone strike killed 10 noncombatants, including children
Pentagon officials offered few details about a US drone strike in Kabul carried out over the weekend, while not disputing reports that the US retaliatory attack killed nearly a dozen civilians including children.
Monday’s presser came just about 24 hours after a US unmanned aerial aircraft struck a vehicle believed by the US military to have been made into a bomb by Isis-k militants who the US said were bound for Kabul’s airport, where evacuations are underway.
US officials initially claimed that there were “no indications” of civilian casualties, even as reports were already rolling in on social media from locals.
“We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time,” said US Army Captain Bill Urban in his initial statement.
The attack caused a large secondary explosion, according to the US military, confirming suspicions that the vehicle likely contained an improvised explosive device (IED). En même temps, the explosion itself or potentially another projectile from the drone struck a nearby residential building, according to both the Taliban and officials with Afghanistan’s now-toppled government.
By Sunday evening, Captain Urban was claiming that “additional casualties” were possible from the blast.
“We are still assessing the results of this strike, which we know disrupted an imminent Isis-K threat to the airport,” said Captain Urban. “We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties.”
“We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life," il ajouta.
In that residential building ten people were killed, according to local officials and media reports, including six children. The youngest person caught in the blast was just two years old, according to various news organisations.
“Not much is left of their house and nothing can be recognised, they are in pieces,” one neighbor told CNN.
We’ve seen hell in our life. We gathered parts of our [famille] members in our hands. How is this possible?” one man who said he was a relative of those civilians told the BBC. “They killed our family, our children. They are all burned out. We can not now define their face, their body.”
Hundreds attended a public outdoor funeral for the ten people killed on Monday.
The deaths of at least ten Afghans underscore the ongoing chaos and confusion in Kabul amid the US’ withdrawal, which is set to conclude within 48 les heures. White House and Pentagon officials are staying mum as to when the last flight will leave.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby claimed on Monday at a news briefing that “no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties” than the US military.
“We take it very, very seriously and when we know that we have caused innocent life to be lost in the conduct of our operations, we’re transparent about it," il ajouta.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that an investigation was underway, but declined to comment on the reports otherwise.
“I can’t speak to or confirm the number of civilian causalities. There is an investigation," elle a dit.
The Biden administration has been hit both by Republicans for not leaving several thousand troops in the region, thereby violating the US’ withdrawal agreement with the Taliban, as well as by others in the media and on Capitol Hill for the general management of the evacuations. More than a dozen US service members were killed in a suicide bombing at the airport on Thursday.
Sunday’s strike, now believed to have killed more civilians than Isis-k militants, is just the latest grim news out of Kabul adding to the mountain of criticism for the White House’s handling of the process, which first came under heavy criticism more than a week ago after several Afghans were killed as a result of US forces temporarily losing control of the tarmac itself to a mob of desperate civilians attempting to board or physically cling to departing planes.
The US withdrawal remains supported by a majority of Americans, while polls indicate just about one in four support how the White House is managing it.