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Afghanistan

Afghan killed by drone praised by co-workers in US aid group


Story by KATHY GANNON and ERIC TUCKER

Story   Source

Published on September 17, 2021 1:12 AM
 
 
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan man who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last month was an enthusiastic and beloved longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization, his colleagues say, painting a stark contrast to the Pentagon's claims that he was an Islamic State group militant about to carry out an attack on American troops.

Signs have been mounting that the U.S. military may have targeted the wrong man in the Aug. 29 strike in Kabul, with devastating consequences, killing seven children and two other adults from his family. The Pentagon says it is further investigating the strike, but it has no way to do so on the ground in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, severely limiting its ability to gather evidence.

Accounts from the family, documents from colleagues seen by The Associated Press, and the scene at the family home — where Zemerai Ahmadi's car was struck by a Hellfire missile just as he pulled into the driveway — all seem to sharply contradict the accounts by the U.S. military. Instead, they paint the picture of a family that had worked for Americans and were trying to gain visas to the United States, fearing for ...

BACKGROUND

29 August

On 29 August 2021, the Associated Press reported that the Taliban had sealed off the airport as the US and its allies wound up the airlift. The Taliban, meanwhile, insisted on taking over the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport themselves instead of Turkey, with spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid stating that their own special forces would guarantee its safety. However, 98 countries, including the United States, released a joint statement saying that they had received assurances from the Taliban that foreign nationals and Afghans would be allowed to leave the country.

The United States military conducted a drone strike against a vehicle it stated was believed to be carrying at least one ISIL-KP suicide bomber in Kabul, who was trying to reach Kabul airport to attack it. The attack set off the explosives inside the vehicle, killing three children in a nearby building, according to Afghan officials. A relative of the deceased told CNN that nine people belonging to the same family, including six children, were killed due to the airstrike. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid criticised the United States for conducting the strike instead of informing the group about the attackers beforehand, and said that seven civilians had been killed due to the strike.

Relatives later stated that 10 people who lived in the building next to the target vehicle were killed, including seven children. Some of those killed had previously worked for international organisations and held visas allowing them US entry. US officials said that there had been a number of 'substantial and powerful subsequent explosions' following the drone strike indicating that the vehicle had been carrying explosives and they were investigating reports of civilian casualties. Relatives however denied any subsequent explosions had occurred and claimed the driver of the car was not affiliated with the group.

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