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Afghan family decimated by US drone strike awaits justice from Washington.

An Afghan family that lost 10 members, including seven children, in a mistaken US drone strike on a Kabul home says it is still seeking justice and has yet to hear from the Americans more than two months after the tragedy.

The US military has said that a series of errors led to the attack, which was supposed to have targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber posing an imminent threat to US-led troops at Kabul airport.

The man it hit, Zamarai Ahmadi, was in fact working for US-based NGO Nutrition and Education International (NEI). US defence secretary Lloyd Austin called Mr Ahmadi’s activities “harmless” and the Pentagon said it was considering reparations.

“Justice should be done,” Ajmal Ahmadi, Zamarai’s younger brother, said at the family home that was struck by a Hellfire missile fired by a US drone on August 29th.

“They [the United States] promised they will take them [those involved in the strike] to court ... They promised compensation ... they promised they will take us out [of Afghanistan].” The country was recently the scene of a chaotic evacuation of thousands of people fleeing the Taliban. He also expressed disappointment they had yet to hear from American officials.

Lt Col César Santiago, spokesman for the US defence department, said it was taking steps to respond to the airstrike.

“To protect the privacy of their family members, as well as to help protect their safety and security, we are not able to provide more information regarding these efforts at this time,” Lt Col Santiago said.

Condolence payments

The Pentagon previously said it was looking at making condolence payments to the family and would work with the state department to relocate to the United States family members who want to leave.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing NEI, urged Washington to act.

Partially burnt shoes amid the debris of the house of Ezmarai Ahmadi who was wrongly identified as an Islamic State militant by US intelligence.Photograph: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP

Partially burnt shoes amid the debris of the house of Ezmarai Ahmadi who was wrongly identified as an Islamic State militant by US intelligence.Photograph: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP

“Family member survivors have repeatedly asked for meaningful transparency and accountability for the wrongful killing of their loved ones, but they did not receive it from the Pentagon investigation,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the union’s national security project.

“Impacted family members and NEI employees are at a high risk as a result of the US government’s actions and must urgently be evacuated,” she said.

The drone attack came days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghan civilians crowded outside the airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights.

On August 15th, Taliban insurgents entered the capital and seized power with barely a fight, after US-trained Afghan forces melted away.

Last week, an investigation by the US military’s inspector general said that although the strike was a mistake, it was not a case of criminal negligence and that disciplinary action was not recommended.

Presence of child

The errors included not noticing the presence of a child minutes before the strike took place.

The child was one of several who were in the compound when the missile struck, decimating an entire family. It killed Zamarai Ahmadi and three of his children – Zameer (20), Faysal (16) and Farzad (12).

Two of Zamarai’s brothers also lost their children: Arveen (7), bin Yameen (6) and Malika (3), along with Ayat and Sumaya, both of whom were two years told. Their sister’s daughter, aged 28, who was visiting, was also killed.

The family is struggling to come to terms with what happened.

“Even the sandals that were burned, we have kept them,” Ajmal Ahmadi said, adding that women in the family still hug and kiss the charred shoes. “They [the women] are in a bad state.”

The family has moved out of the house, because staying there invoked too many memories.

The surviving children, Mr Ahmadi said, often asked the adults to take them to visit the graves of their siblings and cousins.

Ada (7) never misses an opportunity to visit the cemetery where her little sister Malika is buried.

She sits by the grave, praying and cleaning off dust from the epitaph, which reads: “I ask, ‘why did you leave, this was not our destiny’ – they say, ‘what can we can do, destiny is like this’.” – Reuters

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