Relatives of victims of a US drone strike that killed 10 members of an Afghan family in a “tragic mistake” demanded a face-to-face apology and compensation on Saturday.
Ezmarai Ahmadi, falsely identified by US intelligence as an Islamic State terrorist, tracked his white Toyota for eight hours before the car was targeted with a missile on August 29, killing seven children and three adults.
A top general admitted the attack was an error, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin apologized to the relatives of those killed.
However, Ahmadi’s 22-year-old nephew Farshad Hydari said this was not enough.
“He should come here and apologize to us face-to-face,” he told AFP at a bomb-less, modest house in densely populated Kwaza Burga, northwest of the Afghan capital.
Haidari, whose brother Nassar and younger cousins were also killed, said the US had made no direct contact with the family.
“They should come and pay compensation,” he said. “They were not terrorists, and now it is clear to them and to the whole world,” he said of his relatives.
Hydari said he wants officials to “catch and prosecute” those responsible for firing the missiles.
“Most of them had worked with Americans,” Hydari said. “Nassar had worked with Americans for about 10 years. My uncle had also worked with international organizations.”
Ahmadi was working for an American aid group at the time of his death.
Haidari said all the victims had received evacuation papers and hoped to go to the United States soon, like many Afghans eager to flee newly Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
– ‘The intelligence was wrong’ –
On the night of the strike, Ahmadi pulled his car into his driveway before the young man piled into the vehicle—pretending the parking routine was an adventure—while he watched from the side.
Then a missile hit the car – destroying the lives of 10 people in an instant.
The wreckage of the vehicle was lying along with another burnt vehicle in the courtyard of the house on Saturday.
Broken glass was scattered on the ground and the young victims’ small sandals were placed on the broken chassis.
US Central Command Commander General Kenneth McKenzie said US intelligence had spotted the vehicle at a site in Kabul, which had been identified as the location from which IS operatives are believed to have carried out the attack on Kabul airport. were preparing.
Three days ago an Islamic State-Khorasan suicide bomber killed several people, including 13 US service members, at the airport.
“We chose this car based on its movement in a known target area of interest to us,” McKenzie said.
“Clearly our intelligence was wrong on this particular white Toyota,” he said.
– ‘America must pay compensation’ –
Defense Secretary Austin said that Ahmadi’s activities that day were “completely harmless”, and that the man was “as innocent as the victim, as others were tragically killed”.
“We now know that there was no connection between Mr Ahmadi and ISIS-Khorasan,” Austin said.
Ahmadi’s brother Aimal, whose three-year-old daughter Maleka was killed in the attack, said “the US must pay compensation”.
“Today it was great news for us that the United States officially acknowledged that they attacked innocent civilians,” he said. “Our innocence has been proved.
“We demand justice from international institutions … then we seek compensation.”
McKenzie said the US government was studying how damages could be paid to the families of those killed.