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U.S. Drones Kill 17 in Afghanistan


An early Friday report from Kabul said 17 people were killed by U.S. drones in south-eastern Afghanistan during the week.

Nematullah Baburi, a member of the council of Paktika province, said there were conflicting reports on the identities of the causalities, while the local officials said the dead were civilians, while police and foreign forces said all casualties were militants.

He, however, insisted that three drone airstrikes conducted by U.S. forces in the Nematabad area of Gomal district killed 17 civilians including a tribal elder.

Baburi said the first strike targeted a vehicle carrying an elder named Haji Rozuddin on Wednesday, killing all 12 passengers.

“Two other airstrikes a few kilometres away the same day killed 5 villagers.

Another council member, Fazal Katawazai, confirmed that the strikes had left civilian casualties, but said he did not know how many.
He said there were problems getting more information, as the phones do not work there.

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Katawaza said another problem was that the local government only controls the district centre, while other areas are in control of Taliban.

The provincial police and international forces said only Taliban militants were killed in the airstrikes.

Gen. Zorawar Zahid, Paktika’s Police Chief, declining to comment on reports of Rozuddin’s death, stressing that no civilians were killed.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of the U.S. forces in Kabul said that there was no evidence of civilian casualties.

Drone strikes have intensified since Islamic State militants have started appearing in Afghanistan. Most of them have been in Nangarhar province, north-east of Paktika.

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