The targeted drone attack came as US officials warned of an ‘imminent threat’ days after a deadly suicide bomb
A US drone strike in Afghanistan on Sunday killed nine members of one family, according to local reports.
The casualties of the strike in the capital city of Kabul included six children, a relative told a local journalist working with CNN.
The Pentagon said in a statement earlier that it was “assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time.”
The strike followed a huge amount of bloodshed over a three-day period as the American military finishes evacuating citizens and others with papers ahead of President Joe Biden’s 31 August deadline for troop withdrawal.
On Thursday, a suicide attack at the airport – where thousands of people are desperately trying to get on flights out of the country before the Taliban resumes complete control – killed 13 US service members and about 170 Afghans.
The attack was carried out by members of terrorist group ISIS-K, and the following day a US drone strike killed two “high-profile” ISIS-K members as a “little bit of both” retaliation and counterterrorism pre-planning, a Pentagon spokesman said Saturday.
The next strike on Sunday targeted an “imminent ISIS-K threat,” officials said.
“U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International Airport,” US Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban told CNN.
“We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material,” Capt. Urban said.
Following Thursday’s suicide attack at the airport, US officials reiterated that threats remained “dynamic” and “active.”
The US drone strike on Sunday came on the same day that the United States joined nearly 100 countries in issuing a statement claiming the Taliban had given “assurances” that foreign nationals and visa holders would continue to be allowed to travel following troop withdrawal.
Also on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “there are very significant expectations of the Taliban going forward.”
After Sunday’s strike, a Taliban spokesperson telling CNN that it was “not right to conduct operations on others’ soil.”
“Whenever the US conducts such operations, we condemn them,” he said.
Verified information was not immediately available following the drone strike this weekend, but family members and witnesses told CNN about the juvenile casualties.
“All the neighbors tried to help and brought water to put out the fire and I saw that there were 5 or 6 people dead,” a neighbor told CNN. “The father of the family and another young boy and there were two children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were [also] two wounded.”
Another man told CNN: “First we managed to remove a 3- to 4-year old child. The fire and smoke had engulfed the whole area.”
He said that “three people were inside the car” and three others were outside the car, and the injured were taken to a hospital.