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“Righteous” US drone strike in Afghanistan killed aid worker and civilians

A US drone strike meant to prevent an imminent attack on the Kabul airport is reported to have mistakenly killed an aid worker as well as nearby civilians.

A US drone strike meant to prevent an imminent attack on the Kabul airport is reported to have mistakenly killed an aid worker as well as nearby civilians.
US Air Force

The US has used drones to carry out numerous attacks against terrorists around the world as part of its global war on terror resulting in much controversy. The practice has resulted in civilian casualties, including possibly over 450 children since 2004 according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The last known US drone strike in Afghanistan on 29 August was claimed as “righteous” to prevent an imminent attack on US troops at the Kabul airport wrapping up the evacuation of civilians. The airport had been attacked just three days before by ISIS-K, killing 169 Afghan civilians and 13 US service members and more attacks were anticipated by the terrorist group. However, the target of the strike and the number of civilians killed are reportedly not what the US military said.

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Aid worker mistaken for ISIS-K militant

The identity of the person who was driving the car that the US military officials allege was transporting explosives is unknown to them according to reporting from the New York Times. They considered him suspicious because of his activities that day driving around picking people up and dropping them off. Officials also said that he possibly visited an ISIS-K safe house and loaded what they deemed to be explosives into his car.

The New York Times reports that after investigating video footage and interviewing colleagues they can identify the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, an aid worker for a US group. What the military interpreted as suspicious activity was him performing his daily routine, ferrying co-workers to and from work. During one of his stops, he loaded canisters into the trunk of his car which passengers told the Times were water that he was taking home.

The car he was using was a Toyota Corolla similar to one that would be used in a rocket attack on the airport the next day.

Civilians caught in the blast

One of the most controversial parts of any war are civilian casualties, which increase when combat actions take place in urban areas. The drone strike that allegedly killed Mr. Ahmadi took place in a dense residential block.

Drone strikes have been especially controversial due to a lack of transparency in the past and later for undercounting the number of “non-combatants” killed in the strikes according to watchdog groups. One such group based in the UK, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, estimates that between 300 to 909 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, including 66 to 184 children, since 2004.

The most recent drone strike according to relatives of Mr Ahmadi speaking to the Times killed 10 members of their family, including seven children. The US military has only acknowledged three civilians were killed in the drone strike. The drone operator assessed that with "reasonable certainty" no children, women or civilians were present before the missile was fired according to military officials.