Nine killed, including children, in US drone strike on Kabul targeting suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber, family says

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Nine members of one family — including six children — were killed in a US drone strike on a vehicle in a residential area of ​​Kabul, a relative of the dead told a local reporter who worked for CNN.

The US conducted a defensive air strike in Kabul targeting a suspected ISIS-K suicide bomber who posed an “imminent” threat to the airport, the US Central Command said Sunday.

The youngest murdered was a two-year-old girl, according to a brother of one of the dead.

Taliban forces closed Kabul airport to most Afghans on Saturday in hopes of evacuation. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP) (AP)

They were “an ordinary family,” he said.

“We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home – where my brothers lived with their families.”

Neighbors and witnesses at the site of the drone strike in Kabul told CNN that several people were killed, including children.

“All the neighbors tried to help and brought water to put out the fire and I saw that five or six people had died,” a neighbor told CNN.

“The father of the family and another young boy and there were two children. They were dead. They were in pieces. There were… [also] two injured.”

Another neighbor told CNN they estimate the strike may have killed 20 people.

“There is not much left of their house and there is nothing to recognize, they are in pieces,” said the neighbor.

Another witness told CNN that after the strike, neighbors and onlookers “removed six dead bodies” and believes “children are still missing.”

The US military later on Sunday acknowledged reports of civilian casualties following the attack.

“We know that there were substantial and powerful explosions as a result of the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused more casualties,” said Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command, in a statement. declaration.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday (early Tuesday AEST) that US authorities are still investigating the allegations and “are not in a position to dispute them.”

“No army on Earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the US military and no one wants innocent people killed,” he said.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch as a carrier team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Corporal Corporal Kareem M Nikoui, 20, of Norco, Calif., during a victim’s return on Sunday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (AP)

“We take it very seriously and if we know that we have lost innocent lives in the conduct of our operations, we are transparent about that.”

US troops race to complete their evacuation operation before Tuesday’s deadline and under the threat of another terror attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

A US official confirmed the location of the attack in the Khaje Bughra neighborhood of Kabul.

“US forces today launched an unmanned aerial strike over the horizon on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the CENTCOM statement said.

“Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a significant amount of explosive material.”

The Taliban, now in control of Afghanistan, later on Sunday condemned the strike and said the US had violated the country’s sovereignty.

Bilal Kareemi, a Taliban spokesman, told CNN it was “inappropriate to conduct operations on other people’s soil” and that the US should have informed the Taliban.

“Whenever the US carries out such operations, we condemn them,” he said.

Taliban commando fighters stand guard in Lashkar Gah, Southwestern Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Friday. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaliq) (AP)

The vehicle targeted by the US airstrike on Kabul on Sunday stood next to a building and contained one suicide bomber, a US official told CNN.

It remains unclear whether the vehicle was intended as a car bomb, or whether the suicide bomber used it for transportation.

“It was loaded and ready to go,” the official told CNN.

A Pentagon official told CNN that initial reports were that the target was a vehicle believed to contain multiple suicide bombers. The threat could also have been a car bomb or someone wearing a suicide vest, he said, citing initial reports.

Captain Urban said earlier on Sunday that the US military was “estimating the possibilities of civilian casualties, although we have no clues at this time” and would remain vigilant for potential future threats.

A man told a reporter who worked for CNN who visited the compound that “a rocket hit and six people were killed. There was a car in it.” The journalist was not allowed to enter the compound.

Another man said he heard the sound of a rocket and gained access to the scene from a neighbor’s house.

“First we managed to remove a child aged 3 to 4 years old. The fire and smoke had engulfed the entire area,” he said.

He added that “three people were in the car” and three others were outside the car. The injured, including children, were taken to hospital, he said.

The evacuation mission is coming to an end. (AP)

US President Joe Biden said on Saturday that military commanders had advised that “a new terrorist attack at Kabul airport was “highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” and the US embassy in Kabul warned all US citizens to immediately clear the airport area. to leave.

The White House said on Sunday morning that about 2,900 people had been evacuated from Kabul from 3 a.m. New York time (5 p.m. AEST) Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday. Those evacuations were carried out by 32 US military flights and nine coalition flights.

The mission is clearly coming to an end, with fewer people being released than in the same period on the previous days.

Biden traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday to mourn with the families of the 13 US servicemen who died in Thursday’s attack as their bodies were returned to US soil.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the 13 will be remembered as heroes.

“These men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so that others could live,” he said.

ISIS in Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, has claimed that an ISIS militant carried out the suicide bombing, but has provided no evidence to substantiate the claim. US officials have said the group was likely behind the bombing.

On Saturday, the Pentagon said two “high-profile” ISIS targets had been killed and another injured in a US drone strike late Friday in Jalalabad, eastern Nangarhar province, in a retaliation for Thursday’s attack.

Smoke rises from a deadly explosion outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, August 26, 2021. Two suicide bombers and gunmen have targeted crowds gathering near Kabul airport, in the waning days of a massive airlift which has drawn thousands of people to flee the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.  (AP Photo/Wali Sabawoon)
Smoke rises from a deadly explosion last week outside the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP)

Missiles fired at Kabul . airport

As many as five missiles were fired at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Monday, a US official told CNN.

The C-RAM defense system installed at the airport dealt with the missiles, the official said. There are currently no reports of casualties.

C-RAM is an automated system that detects incoming attacks and uses a machine gun to destroy the incoming fire before it can hit its target. The system has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to intercept and destroy incoming projectiles aimed at US forces.

The US official said the missiles targeting the airport were likely launched by ISIS-K, but warned it was too early to know for sure.

A civilian vehicle was apparently used as a makeshift platform in the missile strike. Video obtained by CNN showed the vehicle engulfed in flames on a street in Kabul’s Khair Khana neighborhood after the rockets were fired.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, August 30, 2021, rocket launcher tubes can be seen inside a destroyed vehicle vehicle. Missiles hit a neighborhood near Kabul International Airport on Monday amid the US’s ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was not immediately clear who launched them. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi) (AP)
On Monday, August 30, 2021, rocket launcher tubes can be seen inside a destroyed vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan. Missiles hit a neighborhood near Kabul International Airport on Monday amid the US’s ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was not immediately clear who launched them. (AP Photo/Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi) (AP)

The burnt remains of the car are covered in debris, the glass is missing from all the windows and the rubber has melted from the tires. The car appears to have been modified, with six large tubes visible in the charred skeleton.

Zia ud Din, a potato chip seller whose house was next to the car, heard the bang of the rocket launch.

“There were some big bangs, we were all in the house – the whole family – when we heard the loud bangs, we ran into the yard, everything caught fire,” he said.

“Fortunately, no one is killed or injured.”

Taliban fighters had initially cordoned off the street, telling bystanders the situation remained dangerous, although they later let journalists out on the street.

Eyewitnesses said one of the missiles hit a nearby building. A rocket impact was visible on a nearby tall tower, although Taliban fighters and eyewitnesses said there were no casualties in the building.

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