US admits Kabul strike killed 10 civilians and not Islamic State militants

US military

Gen Kenneth McKenzie says ‘it was a mistake’ and that it was unlikely those who died posed a direct threat to US forces

Guardian staff and agencies

Fri 17 Sep 2021 15.32 EDT

A US drone strike in Afghanistan last month killed as many as 10 civilians – including seven children – and not an Islamic State extremist as first claimed, the Pentagon has announced.

In a briefing on Friday the commander of US Central Command, Gen Kenneth McKenzie said he now believed that it was unlikely that those who died were Islamic State militants or posed a direct threat to US forces at Kabul’s airport.

“I offer my profound condolences … It was a mistake and I offer my sincere apology” McKenzie told reporters.

For days after the 29 August strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite numerous civilians being killed, including children.

News organizations later raised doubts about that version of events, reporting that the driver of the targeted vehicle was a longtime employee at an American humanitarian organization and citing an absence of evidence to support the Pentagon’s assertion that the vehicle contained explosives.

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