KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Sorry is not enough for the Afghan survivors of a US drone strike that killed 10 family members, including seven children.
Emal Ahmadi, whose 3-year-old daughter Malika was killed on August 29 when the U.S. Hellfire missile hit her older brother’s car, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the family is demanding Washington investigate who fired the drone and punish military personnel. responsible for the strike.
“It is not enough for us to apologize,” Ahmadi said. “The United States should find the person who did this. “
Ahmadi said the family was also seeking financial compensation for their losses and demanded that several family members be relocated to a third country, without specifying which country.
The AP and other news outlets in Kabul reported after the strike that the driver of the targeted vehicle, Zemerai Ahmadi, was a long-time employee of a US aid organization and cited the lack of evidence to support the strike. Pentagon claim that the vehicle contained explosives.
The missile struck as the car pulled into the family driveway and the children ran to greet Zemerai.
US Naval General Frank McKenzie, chief of US Central Command, on Friday called the strike a “tragic mistake” and, after weeks of denial, said innocent civilians had indeed been killed in the attack and not an Islamic State extremist as announced earlier. .
The drone strike follows a devastating suicide bombing by the Islamic State group – a rival to the Taliban – that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen at one of the gates of Kabul airport. For days, desperate Afghans had stormed checkpoints outside the airport, trying to leave the country amid the chaotic withdrawal of US and NATO troops, fearing for their future under the Taliban.
McKenzie apologized for the mistake and said the United States was considering paying reparations to the families of the victims.
Emal Ahmadi, who said he heard about the apologies from friends in America, insisted it would not bring his family members back and although he expressed his relief for the apology from the United States and the Recognizing that his family were innocent victims, he said he was frustrated that it took weeks to plead with Washington to at least call the family.
Even as evidence to the contrary accumulated, Pentagon officials claimed the strike was carried out correctly, to protect US troops left at Kabul airport before the final withdrawal the next day, August 30.
Looking exhausted, sitting in front of the charred ruins of Zemarai’s car, Ahmadi said he wanted more than an apology from the United States – he wanted justice, including an investigation into the perpetrator of the strike “and I want him to be punished by the United States ”
In the days leading up to the Pentagon apology, family accounts, documents from colleagues seen by the PA, and the scene at the family home – where Zemerai’s car was hit by the missile – all strongly contradicted the claims. stories from the US military. Instead, they painted a portrait of a family who had worked for the Americans and were trying to get visas for the United States, fearing for their lives under the Taliban.
Zemerai was the breadwinner and looked after his three brothers, including Emal, and their children.
“Now I am then the one responsible for my whole family and I am unemployed,” said Emal Ahmadi. The situation “is not good,” Ahmadi said of life under the Taliban. International aid groups and the United Nations have warned of a looming humanitarian crisis that could push most Afghans below the poverty line.
McKenzie said the decision to hit a white Toyota Corolla sedan, after following it for about eight hours, was made in an “honest belief” – based on a standard of “reasonable certainty” – that it posed a threat. imminent for US forces at Kabul airport. The car reportedly carried explosives in its trunk, he said.
But Ahmadi wondered how his family’s home could have been mistaken for an Islamic State hiding place.
“The United States can see everywhere,” he said of the capabilities of American drones. “They can see that there were innocent children by the car and in the car. Whoever did this should be punished.
“It’s not fair,” he added.
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