CENTCOM Says It’s ‘Unclear What May Have Happened’ In Kabul Drone Strike That Reportedly Killed Civilians

(Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) released a statement Sunday evening saying “it is unclear what may have happened” as a result of an American drone strike Sunday in Kabul.

The U.S. executed the strike on a vehicle that was believed to be filled with explosives and potentially multiple suicide bombers. Initially, CENTCOM released a statement saying officials were “confident” they “successfully hit the target,” which posed an “imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport.”

“We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time,” read the first CENTCOM statement. The strike occurred in a densely-populated residential area within Kabul.

Reports later emerged that the strike had killed multiple civilians. An Afghan health official, who worked with the ousted U.S.-backed government and is not affiliated with the Taliban, told The Wall Street Journal the attack killed five civilians in addition to hitting a house.

Other reports indicated that as many as nine civilians from one family, including six children, may have been killed by the drone strike. One of the Afghans killed reportedly worked with the U.S. military as a translator. (RELATED: Afghan TV Show Host Surrounded By Taliban With Guns Tells Public Not To Be Afraid And Cooperate)

Those reports prompted the second statement from CENTCOM, in which spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said officials are “investigating further.”

“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today. We are still assessing the results of this strike, which we know disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat to the airport,” the follow-up statement said. “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.”

The strike followed an attack by ISIS-K on Thursday, which reportedly killed nearly 200 people, including 14 American service members, and wounded hundreds more. It was carried out by at least one suicide bomber at a gate at the Kabul airport, as well as gunmen who began to fire into the crowd following the first of two explosions.