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Afghanistan: US drone strike victims seek compensation

  • September 19, 2021

Relatives of a family killed by a US drone strike in Kabul demanded Saturday that those responsible be punished.

Ezmarai Ahmadi was wrongly identified by Washington as a militant from the so-called “Islamic State” (IS).

US intelligence tracked his white Toyota for eight hours on August 29 before targeting the car with a missile that killed seven children and three adults.

A top general admitted on Friday the attack was a “tragic mistake” and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized to the relatives of those killed.

Face-to-face apology demanded

But in separate interviews with news media on Saturday, the family said they wanted a face-to-face apology, along with financial compensation.

Emal Ahmadi, whose 3-year-old daughter Malika was among those killed, called for the survivors to be relocated to the US or another country deemed safe.

“Today it was good news for us that United States officially admitted that they had attacked innocents civilians,” he said. “Our innocence has been proven.”

“We demand justice from international institutions… Then we want compensation.”

Ahmadi’s 22-year-old nephew, Farshad Haidari, meanwhile told the AFP news agency the family had received evacuation papers and had hoped to go to the United States soon, like many Afghans eager to flee newly Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

The US military initially defended the strike, saying it had targeted an IS “facilitator” and disrupted the militants’ ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final stage of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan late last month.

The drone strike followed a devastating suicide bombing by IS that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel at one of the gates to the Kabul airport in late August.

At that time, large numbers of Afghans, desperate to flee the Taliban, had crowded the airport gates in hopes of getting on to evacuation flights.  

US finally admits error

US Central Command commander General Kenneth McKenzie said American intelligence had seen the vehicle at a site from which IS operatives were believed to be preparing attacks on the Kabul airport.

“We selected this car based on its movement at a known target area of interest to us,” McKenzie said. “Clearly our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota.” 

McKenzie said the US government was studying how payments for damages could be made to the families of those killed.

mm/rs (AP, AFP)

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