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Six children among nine family members killed in US drone strike in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan: Nine members of a family, including six children, were killed in a US drone strike targeting a vehicle in a residential neighbourhood of Kabul.

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

The youngest casualty was a two-year-old girl, according to a brother of one of those killed. 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.”

Neighbours and witnesses at the scene of the drone strike in Kabul confirmed several people were killed, including children.

“All the neighbours tried to help and brought water to put out the fire and I saw that there were five or six people dead,” a neighbour told news agencies.

“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 wounded.”

The US military acknowledged later on Sunday that there are reports of civilian casualties following the strike.

The United States’s Central Command (Centcom) said it was aware of “reports of civilian casualties” following the drone strike, which it said hit “multiple suicide bombers” who were preparing to attack the ongoing evacuations at the Kabul airport.

The Centcom said it had launched investigations.

Sunday’s attack was the second one carried out by US forces in Afghanistan since a member of the ISIL-affiliated Islamic State in the Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) detonated his explosives at the airport on Thursday, killing dozens of Afghan civilians trying to flee the Taliban-controlled country.

Thirteen US troops were among the 175 victims.

A senior US official claimed that Sunday’s attack was carried after individuals were seen loading explosives into the boot of a vehicle parked in a residential compound near the Kabul airport.

The US military drone fired a Hellfire missile at the car.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said two ISKP members were killed in the attack.

The Centcom said it was still “assessing the results of this attack, which we know disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat to the airport”.

It said the destruction of the vehicle resulted in “substantial and powerful subsequent explosions”, indicating a large amount of explosive material was stored there.

Related story: US military claims Kabul blast mastermind killed in drone strike

The secondary blasts “may have caused the additional casualties,” the Centcom said, adding: “It is unclear what may have happened and we are investigating further.”

In Kabul, witnesses reported a huge blast shaking the neighbourhood where the vehicle was parked and television footage showed black smoke rising into the sky.

Dina Mohammadi told media that her extended family resided in the building and that several of them were killed, including children. She was not immediately able to provide the names or ages of the deceased.

Ahmaduddin, a neighbour who goes by one name, said he had collected the bodies of children after the attack, which set off more explosions inside the house.

The group, which claimed the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport on Thursday, has previously carried out bombings mainly aimed at Afghanistan’s Shia minority, including a 2020 assault on a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed women and newborns.

The Taliban have fought against the ISIL affiliate in the past and pledged – during negotiations with the US last year – not to allow Afghanistan to become a base for “terror attacks”.

The US, which invaded Afghanistan following the September 2001 attacks, is due to pull all of its troops out of the country on August 31.

Along with its allies, the US has airlifted more than 114,000 Afghans and foreigners since August 15, when the Taliban took over Kabul.

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