US offers payments, relocation to family of Afghans killed in botched drone attack

Pentagon says it is also working to relocate any of those relatives to the US, almost two months after Kabul strike

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 defence department said it made a commitment that included offering “ex-gratia condolence payments”, in addition to working with the US state department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

Colin Kahl, the US under secretary of defence 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 29 August drone attack, the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said.

Ahmadi and the others who were killed in the strike were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) or posed a threat to US forces, Kirby said.

The drone strike in Kabul killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children.

The Pentagon had said earlier that the 29 August strike targeted an Islamic State 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 drone strike 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 strike was a “tragic mistake”.

The strike came three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights.

The killing of civilians also raised questions about the future of US counter-terrorism strikes in Afghanistan.

With Reuters and Agence France-Presse

Staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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