U.S. warplanes conducted two airstrikes in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan on Wednesday killing a total of 17 people, local officials and elders said on Thursday, differing from official U.S. and Afghan reports that only militants had been killed.
The innocent civilians were killed during drone strikes carried out by the U.S. in the area of Nematabad on Wednesday, former Afghan senator Hajji Muhammad Hasan said, quoted by The New York Times.
He said that the first strike hit a vehicle carrying Hajji Rozuddin, a tribal leader on his way to mediate a land conflict in the Kakarzai tribe.
“Hajji Rozuddin was strongly anti-Taliban — he carried bodyguards because the Taliban were trying to kill him,” Mr. Hasan said.
The men were armed but only for their own protection, he told the New York Times
Shaista Khan Akhtarzada, the district governor of Gomal, said an investigation team had also concluded that “the people killed were civilians.”
Meanwhile, the US military had said on Thursday that two Wednesday airstrikes in Paktika killed 14 militants.
U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan have increased in recent months, especially along the eastern border with Pakistan.