US offers to pay relatives of Afghans killed in Kabul drone strike in August
The United States government said on Friday that it has offered to pay compensation to the relatives of Afghan nationals who were killed by 'mistake' in a drone strike in Kabul in August when the American troops were completing its withdrawal from the war-ravaged country.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement the offer of compensation to the victims was made on Thursday during a meeting between Dr Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Steven Kwon, the founder and president of an aid group active in Afghanistan, called Nutrition and Education International (NEI).
On August 29, a US Hellfire missile struck a car that was driven by Ezmarai Ahmadi, who had pulled into the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound. Ten members of the family, including seven children, were killed. News agency AFP reported that US intelligence officials had tracked Ahmadi’s car for eight hours before the missile was fired.
The US military, which admitted its mistake, previously described the strike target as an Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) leader who was driving an explosives-laden car to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
However, multiple media reports stated that Ezmarai Ahmadi was an aid worker and had nothing to do with the Islamic State.
During Thursday’s meeting, Steven Kwon told Dr Colin Kahl that Ahmadi had worked with the aid group NEI for many years, providing care and lifesaving assistance for people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan.
“Dr Kahl noted that the strike was a tragic mistake and that Mr Ahmadi and others who were killed were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to US forces,” Pentagon spokesperson Kirby said in the statement and refused to comment on how much compensation will be offered to the relatives.
Even though defence secretary Lloyd Austin has apologised for the August attack, the relatives said that it is not enough. “They must come here and apologise to us face-to-face,” Farshad Haidari, the nephew of Ezmarai Ahmadi told AFP. In September, Haidari, whose brother and cousins were also killed in the strike, claimed that the United States made no direct contact with the family.
(With AFP inputs)