WASHINGTON — Several members of one family were killed in a U.S. drone strike that targeted a vehicle in a residential neighborhood near Kabul's airport, family members told multiple media outlets.
The U.S. military acknowledged Sunday evening that the drone strike on a vehicle suspected of being used for a planned attack in Afghanistan may have caused “additional casualties” as well as killed the two Islamic State militants it targeted.
A relative told the Los Angeles Times that 10 people were killed, including no fewer than seven children. CNN reported a family member of the deceased told a local journalist that nine members of one family died, including six children.
Witnesses to the blast say several citizens were killed or wounded.
In a statement Sunday night, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, Navy Capt. Bill Urban, said U.S. officials were aware of the reports of civilian casualties and were still investigating. Urban said the strike disrupted an imminent threat on the Kabul airport but added: ”We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life.”
Separately, a U.S. official said the drone fired a Hellfire missile at a vehicle in a compound between two buildings when individuals were seen loading explosives into the trunk.
The official said there was an initial explosion caused by the missile, followed by a much larger fireball, believed to be the result of the substantial amount of explosives inside the vehicle.
In his statement, Urban said those powerful subsequent explosions may have caused civilian casualties.
The U.S. believes that two Islamic State group individuals who were targeted were killed. But a brother of one of those killed in the drone strike told CNN they were just "an ordinary family" and not associated with ISIS.
The officials said it appears that the secondary explosion did significant damage to one of the buildings next to the vehicle. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information about a military operation.