Family of Kabul drone strike victims want more than just ‘sorry’


The Afghan survivors of a deadly US drone strike that mistakenly killed 10 members of their family, including seven children said an apology from a US military official ‘is not enough’.

Emal Ahmadi, father of 3-year-old Malika who was killed on Aug. 29 when the US hellfire missile struck his elder brother’s car, told the Associated Press on Saturday that the family demands Washington investigate the incident and punish the military personnel responsible for the strike.

“That is not enough for us to say sorry,” said Ahmadi. “The USA should find the person who did this.”

The family is also seeking financial compensation for their losses and demanded that several members of the family be relocated to a third country, Ahmadi said, without specifying which country.

On Friday, US Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, called the strike a “tragic mistake,” and after weeks of denials, said that innocent civilians were indeed killed in the attack and not a Daesh extremist as was announced earlier.

The AP and other news organizations in Kabul reported after the strike that the driver of the targeted vehicle, Zemerai Ahmadi, was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization and cited an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.

The missile struck as the car was pulling into the family’s driveway and the children ran to greet Zemerai.

Even as evidence mounted to the contrary, Pentagon officials asserted that the strike had been conducted correctly, to protect the US troops remaining at Kabul’s airport ahead of the final pullout the following day, on Aug. 30.

The drone strike followed a devastating suicide bombing by the Daesh group — a rival of the Taliban — that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US military personnel at one of the gates to the Kabul airport.

General McKenzie apologized for the error and said the United States is considering making reparation payments to the family of the victims.

Emal Ahmadi, who said he heard of the apology from friends in America, insisted that it won’t bring back members of his family and while he expressed relief for the US apology and recognition that his family were innocent victims, he said he was frustrated that it took weeks of pleading with Washington to at least make a call to the family.

Zemerai was the family’s breadwinner had looked after his three brothers, including Emal, and their children.

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 who carried out the strike “and I want him punished by the USA.” (Source: Arab News)