Pentagon admits drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians
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The US military said a drone strike it launched in Afghanistan on August 29 killed 10 civilians, including up to seven children, reversing its initial claim that it had hit an “imminent Isis-K threat” to Kabul airport.
“This strike was a tragic mistake,” General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, told reporters on Friday as he released the results of an internal investigation into the strike. “We thought this was a good lead. We were wrong,” he said.
The US drone attack in the Afghan capital occurred on the eve of the departure of the last American troops from the country, ending its 20-year military presence in the country.
After Isis-K terrorists had killed dozens of civilians and 13 members of the US military in a suicide bombing at the gates of the airport three days earlier, American officials were on high alert for new attacks in the area.
On August 29, the US military believed it had identified a possible threat from a man driving around Kabul with possible explosives, but he turned out to be Zemari Ahmadi, an engineer for aid group Nutrition and Education International, who was carrying large water jugs.
Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, apologised for what he described as a “horrible mistake”.
“We now know that there was no connection between Mr Ahmadi and Isis-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced, and that Mr Ahmadi was just as innocent a victim as were the others tragically killed,” Austin said.
Immediately after the drone strike on August 29, the US military claimed there had been “significant secondary explosions from the vehicle”, suggesting explosives were present.
At the time it said while it was “assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties”, there were “no indications” of any. Later in the day, however, it said “additional” casualties may have occurred, and it was “deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life”.