KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A survivor of a U.S. drone strike that killed 10 family members on Saturday demanded that those responsible be punished and said Washington’s apology was not enough.
The family are also asking for financial compensation and resettlement in the United States or another country deemed safe, said Emal Ahmadi, whose 3-year-old daughter Malika was among those killed in the August 29 strike.
That day, an infernal American missile hit the car that Ahmadi’s brother, Zemerai, had just parked in the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound as the children ran to greet him. A total of 10 family members, including seven children, were killed in the strike.
US Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, on Friday called the strike a “tragic mistake” and said innocent civilians were indeed killed in the attack.
The US military initially defended the strike, saying it targeted an Islamic State group’s’ facilitator ‘and disrupted militants’ ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final phase of US troop withdrawal and NATO from Afghanistan at the end of last month.
Discrepancies between the military representation of the strike and the findings on the ground quickly emerged. The Associated Press and other news agencies reported that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a long-time employee of a US aid organization. There was no sign of a large secondary explosion, despite the Pentagon’s claim that the vehicle contained explosives.
The drone strike follows a devastating suicide bombing by ISIS – a rival of the Taliban – that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen at one of the gates of Kabul airport in late August. By this time, large numbers of Afghans, desperate to flee the Taliban, had invaded the airport gates in the hope of taking part in the evacuation flights.
McKenzie apologized for the mistake and said the United States was considering paying reparations to the families of the victims.
Emal Ahmadi told the AP on Saturday that he wanted the United States to investigate the perpetrator of the drone fire and punish those responsible.
“It’s not enough for us to be sorry,” said Ahmadi, who heard of the US apology from friends in America. “The United States should find the person who did this. “
Ahmadi said he was relieved that an apology was offered and that the family members he lost were recognized as innocent victims, but that it will not bring them back. He said he was frustrated the family had never received a call from US officials, despite repeated requests.
He looked exhausted as he sat in front of the charred ruins of his brother’s car.
In the days leading up to the Pentagon apology, family accounts, documents from colleagues seen by the PA, and the scene at the family home – where Zemerai’s car was hit by the missile – all strongly contradicted the claims. stories from the US military.
Instead, they painted a picture of a family who had worked for the Americans and were trying to get visas for the United States, fearing for their lives under the Taliban.
Zemerai Ahmadi was the breadwinner and took care of his three brothers, including Emal, and their children.
“Now I am then the one responsible for my whole family and I am unemployed,” said Emal Ahmadi. The situation “is not good,” Ahmadi said of life under the Taliban.
International aid groups and the United Nations have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis that could push most Afghans below the poverty line.
McKenzie said the decision to hit a white Toyota Corolla sedan, after following it for about eight hours, was made in an “honest belief” – based on a standard of “reasonable certainty” – that it posed a threat. imminent for US forces at Kabul airport. The car reportedly carried explosives in its trunk, he said.
But Ahmadi wondered how the family home could have been mistaken for an Islamic State hideout.
“The United States can see everywhere,” he said of the capabilities of American drones. “They can see that there were innocent children by the car and in the car. Whoever did this should be punished.
“It’s not fair,” he added.