The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched US drone attack in Afghanistan in August during the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.
The US Department of Defense said it made a commitment that included offering “ex-gratia condolence payments”, in addition to working with the US Department of State in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.
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Colin Kahl, the US under-secretary of defense for policy, held a virtual meeting on Thursday with Steven Kwon, the founder and president of Nutrition & Education International, the aid organisation that employed Zemari Ahmadi, who was killed in the August 29 drone attack, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said late on Friday.
Ahmadi and others who were killed in the drone raid were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) or threats to US forces, Kirby said.
The drone raid in Kabul killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children.
The Pentagon had said earlier that the August 29 attack targeted an ISKP suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to US-led troops at the airport as they completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
However, reports had emerged almost immediately that the attack in a neighbourhood west of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport had killed civilians, including children.
Video from the scene showed the wreckage of a car strewn around the courtyard of a building. The Pentagon later said the raid was a “tragic mistake”.
The attack came three days after an ISKP suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and dozens of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights, after US-trained Afghan forces melted away and the Taliban swept to power in the capital in mid-August.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has apologised for the botched attack. However, Ahmadi’s 22-year-old nephew Farshad Haidari said that was not enough.
“They must come here and apologise to us face-to-face,” he told the AFP news agency in a bombed-out, modest house in Kwaja Burga, a densely populated neighbourhood in Kabul.
Haidari, whose brother Naser and young cousins also died in the blast, said on September 18 that the US had made no direct contact with the family.
The killing of civilians also raised questions about the future of US drone attacks in Afghanistan.