Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Errant US drone strike kills dozens of farmers in Afghanistan

Errant US drone strike kills dozens of farmers in Afghanistan

A USA drone strike meant to hit an Islamic State (IS) hideout in Afghanistan killed at least 30 civilians resting after a day's labour in the fields, officials said on Thursday. "The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them", tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters by telephone from Wazir Tangi.

A senior defence ministry official in Kabul said the militants wanted to target a training base for the country's powerful security agency National Directorate of Security, but parked the explosives-laden vehicle outside a hospital gate nearby.

U.S. forces were not immediately available for a comment. "We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts".

President Donald Trump, who had invited Ghani and the Taliban to the United States, eventually declared the talks dead, citing an attack by the insurgents that killed a U.S. soldier.

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The victims of the strike were farm laborers sleeping in tents, Arifzai said. The workers were collecting pine nuts in a mountainous region in the eastern part of the country. Angered by the attack, some residents of Nangarhar province demanded an apology and monetary compensation from the United States government.

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Angry residents of the area carried 12 bodies to the provincial capital Jalalabad on Thursday morning protesting the attack, provincial council head Ahmad Ali Hazrat said.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangarhar confirmed the air strike. There was no word from IS on the attack.

The Taliban recently warned that it will target polling stations and rallies in the run-up to the presidential election.

In a separate attack Thursday, a suicide truck bomb exploded near a hospital in southern Zabul province, killing 20 people and wounded over 90 others, police said. "It is very important for Afghanistan that talks be held".

Trump's declaration this month that the talks were "dead" spurred the Taliban to declare last week that the only other option was more fighting, sparking fears of an uptick in attacks ahead of presidential elections at the end of the month.

According to the United Nations, at least 3,812 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019 in the war against militant groups, with a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and foreign forces.

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