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US investigating reports on 9 civilians killed in drone strike on ISIS-K car in Kabul

The residential area of Kabul near the airport where a ISIS-K vehicle which was to be used as a car bomb for a second attack on the airport was destroyed by a US drone

IN Bureau

The United States is investigating whether civilians may have been killed in its second drone strike that was launched on Sunday to destroy a car full of explosives in Kabul belonging to the ISIS-K terror group, a spokesman for US Central Command (CENTCOM) said late on Sunday.

The statement came after American news channel CNN reported that nine members of a family, including six children, were killed in Sunday’s air strike in a residential area of Kabul near the airport on an ISIS-K vehicle which was to be used as a car bomb for a second attack on the airport . Local media also reported that civilians were killed in the strike.

"We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today," Navy Captain Bill Urban, a CENTCOM spokesman, said in a statement.

"We are still assessing the results of this strike, which we know disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat to the airport," he added,

"We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties. It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further,” he said. 

"We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life," Urban added.

After the drone strike,  the Pentagon had announced that the mission had been carried out in self-defence and an “imminent” threat of an ISIS-K car bomb had been “taken out” with a successful hit of the target. 

Television footage showed black smoke rising into the sky from near a residential area close to the airport.

Two witnesses said the blast appeared to have been caused by a rocket that hit a house in an area to the northern side of the airport.

The is the second drone carried out by U.S. forces in Afghanistan since an ISIS-K  suicide bomber struck the airport on Thursday, killing 13 U.S. troops and 170 Afghan civilians who were being evacuated from the country.

The Pentagon had said on Saturday that the first retaliatory drone strike carried out by the US on Friday had killed two "high-level" ISIS-K facilitators and planners for terror operations in eastern Afghanistan bordering Pakistan

The U.S had struck again on Sunday while the last batch of 1,000 civilians were being evacuated as part of the current mission from the Kabul airport before the troops finally leave.

President Joe Biden had earlier on Sunday warned that another terrorist attack was highly likely at the Kabul airport as the US troops started withdrawing to meet the Aug 1 deadline for leaving Afghanistan.

"The situation on the ground continues to be extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high. "Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours," Biden had said.

Also read: Taliban arrests two Islamic State suspects from Malaysia after Kabul airport attack