'There was just a leg and hand': Scene where US drone killed 7 kids
‘There was just a leg and a hand remaining’: Neighbours describe horrific scene where US drone killed seven children and say there were no ISIS explosives in the vehicle or carnage would have been worse
- Ezmarai Ahmadi, 40, was killed alongside his sons Zamir, Faisal and Farzad – aged 20, 16 and 12 respectively
- He lost six nieces and nephews in the blast, including a boy and a girl both aged two, two girls aged seven and five, a six-year-old boy and 28-year-old Naser Heydari
- Ezmarai and Naser were both applying for P2 visas under the US scheme to help eligible Afghans to migrate
- Matin Aziz, 20, a neighbour, said that he tried putting out the fire but the children couldn’t be saved
- ‘I could see two children inside the burning car. We tried to help them but it was too late,’ Aziz said
- Aziz also claimed Washington’s statement about there being explosives in the car didn’t add up
- ‘If there were explosives in the car there would have been a much bigger explosion,’ he said
- Pentagon maintains that the blast which killed civilians was the result of ISIS explosives inside the vehicle
Neighbours and relatives have described the horrific scene where a US drone strike killed seven children and say that the Pentagon’s claims about ISIS explosives inside the car made no sense from the blast.
Washington said its drone strike on Sunday was aimed at a vehicle transporting ‘a substantial amount of explosive material’ towards Kabul airport.
Ezmarai Ahmadi, 40, was killed alongside his sons Zamir, Faisal and Farzad – aged 20, 16 and 12 respectively.
He lost six nieces and nephews in the blast, including a boy and a girl both aged two, two girls aged seven and five, a six-year-old boy and 28-year-old Naser Heydari.
Ezmarai had worked with international organisations for 17 years, while Naser had worked for an Afghan National Army commander based in Kandahar under the US-backed government.
They had both applied for P2 visas under the US scheme to help eligible Afghans to emigrate with their families.
Matin Aziz, 20, a neighbour, said he saw Ezmarai and the children burning after the missile struck the car.
‘We were sitting in the street just around the corner and then we heard this almighty blast. When we got here there was a big fire and bodies everywhere,’ he told The Times.
‘I saw Ezmarai on fire. I could see two children inside the burning car. We tried to put the fire out and help them but it was too late. We tried to get some of them to hospital but they all died on the way. There was just one leg and one hand remaining of Farzad [Ezmarai’s 10-year-old son].’
Aziz also claimed Washington’s statement about there being explosives in the car didn’t add up.
‘If there were explosives in the car there would have been a much bigger explosion and the surrounding area would have been destroyed,’ he said.
All three of Romal Ahmadi’s young children were killed in the blast.
‘I was inside the house with my wife when it happened,’ Romal says. ‘My brother had returned home from work so some of the children jumped into the car – it’s just a silly thing we do, they like to drive the car inside.
‘My brother had got out of the driver’s seat and my 10-year-old nephew Farzad was driving.’
Emal Ahmadi, another relative of the strike’s victims, told the BBC that it his two-year-old daughter who was killed in the strike while the family were waiting for a phone call from US personnel instructing them to go to the airport for evacuation
The family members were killed when a car parked outside their home was hit by the drone strike on Sunday, which was targeting a vehicle thought to be carrying a member of ISIS-K
12-year-old Farzad Ahmadi was among the oldest of the children killed according to Ramin Yousufi, a member of the family who vilified the US strike as a ‘brutal attack which happened based on wrong information’
Ramal Ahmadi, second from left, weeps uncontrollably at the mass funeral attended by dozens of friends and family
Ramal Ahmadi, centre, is supported by family members at the mass funeral of the 10 victims killed in the drone strike
Six of those who died were inside the car, the others were in the garden of the home in the tightly-packed Khajeh Baghra neighbourhood.
Romal added: ‘If the US are killing Daesh [ISIS] then we’re happy but you can see there’s no Daesh here, they killed innocent people.’
Romal’s brother Aimal Ahmadi lost his two-year-old daughter, Malaka. He told The Times: ‘When I left home to go to work she came to me to kiss me goodbye and said “I love you father”. After that I never saw her again. I’m completely lost, what should I do. I’ve lost ten members of my family. I’ve lost my life.’
Another neighbour Mumtaz Rahimi, 20, wore rubber gloves as he picked up obliterated body parts scattered among shards of glass outside the home.
‘If I don’t do this, who will? We know this family, they are good people,’ he told The Times.
Mumtaz studied with Zamir Ahmadi, 20, who also died in the blast, saying he was his ‘best friend’ and that he had been excited to start university later this year.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has since admitted that US authorities were ‘not in a position to dispute’ reports of civilian casualties, but assured the press that ‘no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the United States military, and nobody wants to see innocent life taken.’
Washington maintains that the blast which killed the civilians had been compounded by the presence of explosives on the ground.
In a press briefing on Monday, Kirby said: ‘We’re in a particularly dangerous time right now.
‘The threat stream is still real, it’s still active, and in many cases it’s still specific.’
‘We take it very, very seriously and when we know that we have caused innocent life to be lost in the conduct of our operations, we’re transparent about it,’ said Kirby, who went on to defend the drone strike as a necessary action to eliminate ‘what we believed to be a very real, a very specific and a very imminent threat’ from ISIS-K.
The BBC obtained several images of children who were killed in the blast, though some of their names are not yet known.
A mass funeral for the 10 people the family said were killed in the strike took place on Monday in Kabul.
The 10 victims of Sunday’s explosion were the collateral damage of a US drone strike which destroyed a car that the Pentagon said was laden with explosives that would be used by ISIS-K to use to target Americans. US Central Command said these explosives were triggered in the drone strike, which led to a compounded blast responsible for the civilian casualties
Family members were left to pick through the rubble of the blast which destroyed a car parked near the family home and killed 10 people, six of them children
US Central Command said these explosives were triggered in the drone strike, which led to a compounded blast responsible for the civilian casualties
The victims were brought to the burial site in makeshift coffins by van
Islamic prayers were recited for the bodies before they were laid to rest
US forces are on high alert following a suicide bombing outside Kabul airport on Thursday which killed more than 100 civilians and 13 US troops and for which ISIS-K took responsibility.
For days, a sewage canal at the airport had become a holding pen for Afghans who, knee-deep in effluent, waved passports and signs pleading for Western help in boarding evacuation flights out of Kabul.
The canal bank became the target for the suicide bombers as a result of the high concentration of both civilians and US troops. ISIS-K alleged one suicide bomber got ‘within five meters’ of US troops before detonating the explosive device.
Thursday’s suicide bombings prompted Western forces to cut short their evacuation operations of Afghan civilians and instead shifted focus to rapidly removing troops and diplomatic personnel, leaving thousands of Afghan allies to fend for themselves in a country now controlled by the Taliban.
US troops, whose numbers grew to 5,800 after the evacuation operation began on August 14, were already departing ahead of the August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden to fully exit the country.
Kirby said US officials have engaged the Taliban in extensive discussions to ensure the final hours of their evacuation proceeds safely.
‘We have been in communication with the Taliban about these final days, so that we can make sure there is no miscalculation, no misunderstanding,’ he said.
Major General Hank Taylor said more than 122,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since July, including 5,400 Americans.
He said it will continue to be possible to evacuate US citizens still in Afghanistan to the last moment.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that two British adults and a child were among the casualties of the suicide bombing, which has led ministers to declare they are prepared to ‘take action’ in eliminating further threats from ISIS-K.
Mr Raab said on Friday: ‘These were innocent people and it is a tragedy that as they sought to bring their loved ones to safety in the UK they were murdered by cowardly terrorists.
‘Yesterday’s despicable attack underlines the dangers facing those in Afghanistan and reinforces why we are doing all we can to get people out. We are offering consular support to their families.
‘We will not turn our backs on those who look to us in their hour of need and we will never be cowed by terrorists.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was ‘incredibly sad’ to learn that British nationals had lost their lives and added: ‘Getting your family to safety should not cost you your life. We must urgently help those left behind to avoid any more tragic deaths.’
Among the dead was Muhammad Niazi, a British Afghan who had travelled from London to help get his family inside the airport, according to the BBC.
Last night his youngest child, eldest daughter and wife were still missing.
His brother Abdul Hamid, who survived, said: ‘I saw some small children in the river [canal]. It was so bad. It was doomsday.’
His sister Marilyn described him as a ‘beautiful, intelligent, beat-to-the-sound of his own drum, annoying, charming baby brother.’
She added: ‘He was just a kid. He was a f****** medic. There to help people. And now he is gone and my family will never be the same.’
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