The United States military on Friday acknowledged a drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many as 10 civilians; including seven children and also apologised for what it called a “tragic mistake”.
The August 29 strike targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops at the airport as they completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Pentagon had said.
General Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps said that at the time, he had been confident it averted an imminent threat to the forces at the airport.
“Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake,” McKenzie told reporters.
He said he now believed it unlikely that those killed were members of the local Islamic State affiliate, ISIS-Khorasan, or posed a threat to U.S. troops. The Pentagon was considering reparations, McKenzie said.
In a statement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the drone strike had killed a Mr. Ahmadi who worked for a non-profit called Nutrition and Education International.
“We now know that there was no connection between Mr. Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan, that his activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced,” Austin said in the statement.
“We apologise, and we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake.”
It is rare for senior Pentagon officials to apologise personally for civilians killed in military strikes; however, the U.S. military does publish reports on civilians killed in operations around the world.