Afghanistan: US investigating civilian deaths in Kabul strike

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A US drone strike targeting a suicide bomber ended up killing 10 members of one family, including six children, surviving relatives have told the BBC.

The 10 were killed when a car parked at their home was struck by an explosion on Sunday.

The US military said a vehicle carrying at least one person associated with the Afghan branch of the Islamic State group was targeted.

It said people nearby may have been hit in the aftermath of the strike.

Some of those killed had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them entry to the US, the BBC has been told.

Ramin Yousufi, a relative of the victims, said the children who were killed were between the ages of two and 12.

“It’s wrong, it’s a brutal attack, and it’s happened based on wrong information,” he said.

US Central Command has said they are investigating reports of the incident, but are unclear how the 10 died.

In a statement, it said there had been a number of “substantial and powerful subsequent explosions” following the drone strike.

It said the explosions suggested there had been “a large amount of explosive material inside, that may have caused additional casualties”.

Central Command had previously said the strike was successful at “eliminating an imminent” threat to Kabul’s Hamad Karzai International airport from IS-K (Islamic State Khorasan Province), IS’s Afghan affiliate.

The US has been on high alert since a suicide bomber killed more than 100 civilians and 13 US troops outside the airport last Thursday. IS-K claimed responsibility.

Many of those killed had been hoping to board one of the evacuation flights leaving the city, which fell to the Taliban on 15 August.

The US had repeatedly warned of an increase in attacks as 31 August – the date set for the Americans’ withdrawal from Afghanistan – drew closer.

On Monday, a US anti-missile system intercepted rockets flying over the capital towards the airport, an official told Reuters news agency.

Video and pictures carried by local news outlets showed smoke wafting across the rooftops of Kabul, and what appeared to be a burning car on a street.

کابل – گواهان رویداد میگویند چندین موشک با استفاده از یک موتر از منطقه خیرخانه به سمت فرودگاه کابل شلیک شده اند. تاهنوز از تلفات و خسارات جزییات در دست نیست.#ArianaNews pic.twitter.com/3mKXLsV3Eg

The White House said President Joe Biden was briefed on the rocket attack.

“The President was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA (Kabul airport), and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

No US or Afghan casualties have been reported so far from Monday’s incident.

The United States has installed an anti-rocket and mortar system to protect the airport from further attacks.

Later on Monday, British ministers and officials will be taking part in a number of international meetings aimed at defining a joint approach to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will hold talks with his counterparts from the G7 group of wealthy countries, as well as Nato and Qatar.

At the United Nations in New York, France and Britain are expected to propose a Security Council resolution calling for a safe zone in Kabul to protect people trying to leave the country.

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