Alwaght- Angry relatives of fourteen members of an Afghan family, who were killed in an American airstrike, besieged offices of government officials, calling for justice for the victims.
Fourteen members of a family, including three small children, were killed and two more seriously injured on Tuesday when an American airstrike destroyed their home in Dare-e-Robat village in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz Province.
The victims were laid to rest on Friday. At the funeral ceremony, the family members condemned the airstrike and called for justice.
In what has become a familiar litany, particularly in Taliban-dominated Kunduz Province, Afghan and American officials had initially denied that any civilians had been killed in the strike on Thursday, claiming the victims were Taliban fighters.
Then 11 bodies belonging to women and children appeared at the hospital in Kunduz City, about four miles from the site of the attack in Chardara District. The Taliban do not have women fighters and the children were very young, The New York Times reported.
Soon after the attack, district officials described the incident as an airstrike that went wrong, in which only civilians were killed. “There were 12 killed and one wounded by American jets in Chardara District, and all casualties are civilians,” said Abdul Karim, the local police chief. Two other children were later counted as dead because they were known to have been in the house, although their remains could not be found in the rubble, residents and relatives said.
Residents and local officials said 20 people had lived in the house, all members of an extended family. Of the 14 family members killed, eight were women and three children, officials said. Two other children from the family were hospitalized with serious wounds, a girl, 3; and a boy, 5.
Three other children escaped from the house when the attack began, and one man, the father of the wounded children, was not home at the time of the attack.
The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, however, claimed the death toll was much higher, saying “Once again, the Americans killed 28 civilians, including women and children, in Chahar Dara District of Kunduz, with the help of their Afghan puppets in a brutal attack.”
The event was the third time since 2016 that an American airstrike was blamed for civilian deaths in Chahar Dara District, an area that has been heavily dominated by the Taliban but that also partly borders the provincial capital. On at least six occasions since 2015, American airstrikes in Kunduz have been blamed for civilian deaths.
In November, the United Nations confirmed that at least 10 civilians had been killed in airstrikes on a village in Chardara District that month. The American military disputed those findings, and released the results of an internal investigation that absolved itself of killing any civilians.
By Nov. 28, however, the American military commander, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., reversed that finding and apologized for civilians killed in those airstrikes.
In 2016, officials in Chahar Dara District said an American airstrike had hit a Taliban prison and killed as many as 16 prisoners who were allied with the national government.
Kunduz is also the site of the war’s most notorious civilian casualty event: the American bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz in 2015 that killed 42. The American military initially defended its actions, and some Afghan officials falsely claimed the Taliban had been fighting from inside the hospital. A few days later, President Barack Obama publicly apologized for the attack.