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US forces apologize for civilian deaths in Wardak airstrike

AT News Report

KABUL: American forces commander in the southeast apologized for recent civilian deaths caused by an airstrike conducted by collation forces in central Maidan Wardak province, the Afghan military said Saturday. 

Last week an American drone carried out an airstrike in Sayedabad district, in which nine civilians were killed. The drone targeted a civilian vehicle, killing a man Abdul Rahim, his two sons and other civilians.

The killing of innocent people caused anger of the residents, in which they closed Kabul-Kandahar high for traffic in protest over their deaths. 

Brig. Gen. Harab Khanullah Shuja, the Afghan army’s 203rd Thunder Military Corps commander and NATO commander the zone, traveled to Maidan Wardak province, a statement from the corps said.

It said the military officials met with public representatives and relatives of the victims. Shuja told the participants that the security forces’ aim was to ensure people’s security, not to harm them, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

He said the Taliban had lost the ability to fight face-to-face with security forces and instead they used people as human shield, resulting in such incidents.

“Avoiding civilian casualties is our priority and I promise you that we will never be witnesses to such incident and this is my order to all security and defense forces in the south,” he added.

The statement quoted the NATO commander for the zone as apologizing to people over the airstrike which he called a mistake. He vowed not to repeat such incidents and extended deep condolences to the relatives of the victims.

“As we have said in the past, Coalition forces and our Afghan partners take great measures to avoid civilian casualties. Unfortunately, the Taliban often hide amongst innocent civilians, increasing the risk to those Afghans”, RS spokesperson said in a statement.

“This meeting is an example of the coalition and our Afghan partners reaffirming our commitment to reducing civilian casualties,” she added.”

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