US pledges to pay relatives of Afghans killed in drone strike

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The US Department of Defense said on Friday it has pledged to offer condolence payments to the relatives of the 10 people who were killed in a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.

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

Kirby said the issue was raised on Thursday during a meeting between Dr Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and Dr Steven Kwon, founder and chairman of the nonprofit Nutrition & Education International. .

“Dr. Kahl reiterated Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s commitment to families, including offering ex gratia condolence payments,” Kirby said. He did not say how much money would be offered.

On August 29, an American Hellfire missile struck a car driven by Zemerai Ahmadi, which had just parked in the driveway of the Ahmadi family compound. A total of 10 family members, including seven children, were killed in the strike.

Weeks later, Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of the US Central Command, called the strike a “tragic mistake” and said innocent civilians were indeed killed in the attack.

During Thursday’s meeting, Kwon told Kahl that Ahmadi had worked with NEI for many years, “providing life-saving care and assistance to those facing high death rates in Afghanistan,” according to Kirby.

The US military initially defended the strike, saying it targeted an Islamic State group’s’ facilitator ‘and disrupted militants’ ability to carry out attacks during the chaotic final phase of US troop withdrawal and NATO from Afghanistan.

Discrepancies between the military representation of the strike and the findings on the ground quickly emerged. The Associated Press and other news agencies reported that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a long-time employee of a US aid organization. There was no sign of a significant secondary explosion, despite the Pentagon’s claim that the vehicle contained explosives.

The drone strike follows a devastating suicide bombing by a branch of the Islamic State that killed 169 Afghans and 13 US servicemen at one of the gates of Kabul airport in late August.

Last month, McKenzie said the United States was considering paying reparations to the families of the victims of the drone strikes.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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