Middle East/North Africa

Relative of Afghans killed in US drone strike says apology ‘not enough’

A family member of the 10 Afghans killed in a U.S. drone strike after a civilian vehicle was mistaken for an ISIS-K threat said Saturday that the apology from the Pentagon is “not enough” and called on U.S. officials to launch a full probe into the incident to identify those responsible. 

Emal Ahmadi, whose brother Zemerai Ahmadi and 3-year-old daughter Malika Ahmadi were among those killed in the Aug. 29 strike, told The Associated Press that “whoever did this should be punished.”

“It isn’t right,” he said, adding that the officials should also grant financial compensation to his family and relocate them to the U.S. or another safe location. 

The demands come after U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters at the Pentagon Friday that “10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed” in the strike that officials previously said killed one ISIS-K member and three civilians. 

The Pentagon had initially said that the U.S. military struck a vehicle that was deemed “an imminent ISIS-K threat” to U.S. forces evacuating Americans and vulnerable Afghans at Kabul’s airport.

However, reports have emerged in recent weeks that Zemerai Ahmadi was targeted based on unsubstantiated claims that he had connections to ISIS-K, which days before had carried out a suicide bombing on the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 169 Afghan civilians. 

U.S. officials also reportedly believed that Zemerai Ahmadi had explosives in his vehicle, though McKenzie noted Friday that the likely cause of accompanying blasts from the strike was “the ignition of gas from a propane tank located immediately behind the car.” 

The investigation into the strike also found that Zemari Ahmadi was a worker for an aid group, Nutrition and Education International.

McKenzie said Friday that a probe into the strike concluded it was “a tragic mistake,” adding that he wished to share his “profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed.”

“This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology,” he continued. “As the combatant commander, I am fully responsible for the strike and this tragic outcome.” 

However, Emal Ahmadi told the AP in response to McKenzie’s remarks, “That is not enough for us to say sorry.” 

“The USA should find the person who did this,” he added. 

The Hill has reached out to the Pentagon for comment.

Tags Afghanistan Civilian casualties Drone strike ISIS-K Kabul airport Pentagon Terrorism The Associated Press U.S. Central Command U.S. drone strike

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