At least 30 civilians are killed after US-backed drone strike against ISIS accidentally targets farmers in Afghanistan
- The workers were said to be gathered around a bonfire when the fatal strike hit
- Forty other workers were injured in the drone strike in the Nangarhar province
- The province is host to IS leadership and is therefore a frequent airstrike target
Thirty farm workers were among those killed in a US-backed drone strike that was aimed at an IS hideout, but instead hit farmers in a field in eastern Afghanistan.
Forty others were injured in the Wednesday night air strike conducted by the Afghan security forces, with U.S. air support, officials said.
The attack was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State (IS) militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field in Wazir Tangi area of Khogyani district in Nangarhar province, three government officials said.
Malik Rahat Gul, a tribal elder in Wazir Tangi said the air strike happened at a time when tired workers, mainly daily wage earners, had gathered near their tent after harvesting pine nuts in a field nearby.
‘The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,’ said Gul.
File photo of U.S Army soldiers at a checkpoint in the eastern province of Nangarhar Province. A U.S-backed drone strike in the province was said to have killed 30 farm workers in September 2019
The defence ministry in Kabul confirmed the strike conducted by Afghan and U.S. forces was aimed at fighters belonging to the IS, but refused to share the details of the civilian casualties.
U.S. forces in Kabul were not immediately available for a comment.
Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the air strike. ‘The government is investigating the incident, so far nine bodies were collected from the attack site near a pine nut field.’
Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in eastern Nangarhar province said the 30 killed and the 40 injured were workers at a pine nut field in Wazir Tangi.
Nangarhar, which lays along the border with Pakistan, has served as a base of operation for IS in central Asia.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies said the group posed an ‘enduring threat to U.S. and allied interests in South and Central Asia.’
As a result airstrikes have been frequently targeted at Nangarhar, as well as nearby Kunar in an effort to target the group’s operational bases and leadership.