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Sunday November 28, 2021

US to pay relatives of Afghans killed in August drone strike

October 17, 2021
US to pay relatives of Afghans killed in August drone strike

WASHINGTON: The US Defence Department said Friday that it is committed to offering condolence payments to relatives of the 10 people who were killed in an errant US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the Defence Department was also working with the State Department to help surviving family members relocate to the United States.

Kirby said the matter arose in a meeting Thursday between Dr Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defence for policy, and Dr Steven Kwon, founder and president of the nonprofit group Nutrition & Education International, reported foreign media.

“Dr. Kahl reiterated Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin’s commitment to the families, including offering ex gratia condolence payments,” Kirby said. He did not say how much money would be offered. On Aug. 29, a US Hellfire missile struck a car driven by Zemerai Ahmadi, who had just pulled into the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound. In all, 10 members of the family, including seven children, were killed in the strike.

During the meeting Thursday, Kwon told Kahl that Ahmadi had work with NEI for many years, “providing care and lifesaving assistance for people facing high mortality rates in Afghanistan,” according to Kirby. The US military initially defended the strike, saying it had targeted an Islamic State group’s “facilitator” and disrupted the militants’ ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final stage of the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan.

Discrepancies between the military’s portrayal of the strike and findings on the ground quickly emerged. The media reported that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at a US humanitarian organisation. There were no signs of a large secondary blast, despite the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.