Senior U.S. military officials defended the drone strike that killed Afghan family and according to the US State Department hit a suspected Islamic State target and said ‘this strike weakened the extremists’ ability to further disrupt the final phase of the U.S withdrawal and evacuation of thousands of people from Afghanistan’.
However, on the ground, the feeling is different. The U.S. drone strike killed 10 members of his family, six of them children, Ahmadi said.
Ramal Ahmedi describes how the events unfolded moments before the drone strike. ‘It felt like hell itself had opened up’, who was watching cartoons with his nephew when a U.S. drone slammed into his family’s courtyard where just moments before there had been a noisy celebration to greet the family’s oldest brother.
killed Afghan family include 6 children
The last thing Ahmadi remembers was the sound of his brother’s car horn announcing his arrival and the squealing of the children. In the moments that followed he lost 10 members of his family, 6 of whom were children. He can still hear the screams and shouting from the bombing and can’t forget the smell of the burnt bodies.
Inside the courtyard of the family home, Emal, another Ahmadi brother, recently picked through the twisted ruins of the devastated hulk of the Toyota Corolla. Inside was a blood-soaked child’s shirt.
He said some family members, including children, were in the car when it was hit. He contended that if there had been a bomb in the vehicle there would be far more damage to the courtyard and house. He pointed to two undamaged gas cylinders tucked away in a corner of the courtyard.
This horror story will live with him for the rest of his life and says his mind “is not right” since that day.
The family demand evidence for the drone strike
Ramal Ahmadi and his family are outraged by the attack and the accusations and vehemently deny any terrorist activities. They are demanding proof and dispute that the car was carrying explosives.
“If the car was filled with explosives as the Americans say, why didn’t these cylinders explode,” asked Emal. He also pointed to a shoddily constructed brick wall nearby the gutted car. “How could the wall still be standing if this car had been full of explosives?”
“They have to give us answers. Is our blood so worthless, we don’t even get an explanation?” Ahmadi asked.
Their oldest brother, Zamarai, and a nephew Nasir Haideri — both of whom were killed in the strike — had worked for U.S. government-allied firms and had applied for special immigrant visas granted to Afghans with such ties to the U.S. They were being processed at the time of the strike.
Emal said 30-year-old Nasir, who was to have been married just days after the strike, had dreamed of going to America.
The surviving brothers showed the commendation letters the relatives had included in their submissions for the visas.
The White House acknowledges the civilian casualties
White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged the reports of civilian casualties on Thursday and said they were being investigated.
Analysts warned that the risk of civilian casualties during drone strikes will only grow, now that the U.S. no longer has on-the-ground intelligence in Afghanistan.
The compound in Kabul’s Khoja Boghra neighbourhood was home to four Ahmadi brothers and their families — 25 people in all. The roads that weave through the middle-class neighbourhood pass homes hidden behind high walls and gates.
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