During the nearly 20-year American military mission in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting. By independent estimates, more than 71,000 noncombatants have been killed in the war zone they call home. These tangled episodes almost always generate contradictory claims, a pattern which persisted as time ticked down to the end of U.S. presence in Kabul.
These are some of the main assertions regarding Sunday’s U.S. strike at Kabul’s airport.
FROM FAMILY AND WITNESSES:
Relatives and neighbors on Monday told Los Angeles Times journalists at the scene — a working-class neighborhood west of Hamid Karzai International Airport — that a massive explosion rocked the family’s home just as Zemari Ahmadi, a 40-year-old husband and father, was arriving home from work about 4: 30 on Sunday afternoon. They said that children ran to greet him when his Toyota Corolla pulled into the garage. According to relatives, Ahmadi was among the nine who died. A vehicle belonging to the family was also burned.
Relatives, who blamed the United States for the deaths, said they had heard a drone buzzing nearby shortly before the blast.
FROM THE U.S. MILITARY:
The first official confirmation of the episode came from the U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, which announced that Sunday’s strike had hit its intended target, an explosives-laden vehicle carrying would-be suicide bombers from the Afghan affiliate of the militant group Islamic State was hit. A spokesman, U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban initially stated that there was no evidence that civilians in Afghanistan were injured or killed.
In a subsequent statement, Urban said the Pentagon was aware of reports of civilian casualties and was investigating. He said, “We would be deeply disturbed by any potential loss to innocent lives.”
A Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby stated Monday morning that the U.S. military is “not in a place to dispute” multiple news reports about civilian casualties. However, Maj. Gen. William Taylor maintained that the strike had killed Islamic State operatives at the briefing. According to Taylor, civilian casualties were being investigated. This suggests that such deaths and injuries could have been caused by secondary explosions.
FROM THE TALIBAN:
The militant group, which now controls all of Kabul but the airport, said Monday that the strike had caused civilian casualties. Taliban commanders are cooperating with U.S military authorities to secure the area around the airport. They also criticize U.S. officials for not giving them prior notice of the attack. Speaking to China’s state television Zabihullah Mujahid said that seven civilians had been killed.