JALALABAD (Pajhwok): United States forces in Afghanistan have rejected claims that sixteen civilians were killed in two airstrikes by foreign forces in the Haska Mena district of eastern Nangarhar province during a joint operation with Afghan forces on Thursday.
On Friday, Haska Mena district administrative head Saz Wali Shinwari told Pajhwok Afghan News the joint Afghan and foreign forces operation was carried out in Paeen area on Thursday. During the operation, he said, the foreign forces hit a Suzuki vehicle, killing eight members of a family, including women and children.
He had said the foreign forces also hit people who were on foot in the same area, killing another eight people, including four from the same family. He said the dead were not recognizable and were buried in bags.
A resident of the area, Samim, had also confirmed the killing of 16 people, including women and children, in the airstrikes by foreign forces.
However, US-force Afghanistan in a statement on late on Friday said “an airstrike killed a number of militants and destroyed their vehicle in the Haska Mena district on the evening of August 10.”
“The militants were observed loading weapons in to a vehicle and were under surveillance until the vehicle was destroyed by an airstrike,” said Bob Purtiman, United States Forces-Afghanistan spokesman. He further said: “The strike was conducted in the middle of open terrain. There was zero chance of civilian casualties.”
He said it was the second ‘false claim’ of civilian casualties in the same district within the last three weeks. “United States Forces-Afghanistan takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously; reviewing each case fully. US forces take every precaution to conduct all operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.”