US drone strike kills 30 farm workers in Afghanistan

Sunday, 22 Sep, 2019

U.S. and Afghan forces routinely launch air strikes to regain control over territory lost to militant groups.

A U.S. drone strike intended for an Islamic State group target in Afghanistan killed at least 29 civilian farmers, Afghan officials said on Thursday.

"That a USA drone strike purportedly targeting IS militants could instead result in the deaths of scores of farmers is unacceptable and suggests a shocking disregard for civilian life".

A spokesperson for U.S. Forces - Afghanistan confirmed there was a drone strike, but said it targeted ISIS forces in the region. "US forces conducted a drone strike against Da'esh (IS) terrorists in Nangarhar", said Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts", the spokesperson said.

"On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government and their backers in the US military".

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A survivor of the drone strike acknowledged about 200 labourers were napping in 5 tents pitched come the farm when the assault took place.

Air strikes by USA and government forces killed 363 people and injured 156 others, and of those casualties 150 were children, according to the United Nations report. "Such mistakes can not be justified".

Scores of native men joined a enlighten in opposition to the assault on Thursday morning as they helped raise the victims' bodies to Jalalabad metropolis after which to the burial place.

The militants wanted to target a training base for Afghanistan's powerful National Directorate of Security, but parked the vehicle laden with explosives outside a hospital gate nearby, said another defense ministry source.

"We cannot even protest on a large scale because IS or Taliban can target us easily, but the USA must admit they made a mistake", said Rahmatullah Sardar, a dry fruit trader in Jalalabad city.

"We were not privy to this "agreement" that puts them (IS fighters) amongst other harvesters". There was no word from IS on the attack.

Zalmay Khalilzad had held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, the militant group that controlled Afghanistan and provided safe haven to al Qaeda when it plotted and executed the September 11th attacks.

A vehicle bomb Thursday struck Qalat city, the capital of southern Afghanistan's Zabul province, killing 15 people and wounding 66 others, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.

Earlier, authorities had said the blast had killed 20 people.

The decision comes little over a week before the the Afghan elections following friction with President Ashraf Ghani over U.S talks with the Taliban.

An increase in air strikes by USA and Afghan forces also led to more civilian deaths in 2018, with over 500 killed by aerial operations for the first time on record. Under Ghani, a longtime U.S. resident and professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, U.S. officials have credited Afghan troops with taking the lead in fighting the Taliban.