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article imageUS drone strike kills at least 30 farm laborers in Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Sep 19, 2019 in World
A US drone strike whose intended target was an ISIS hideout in Afghanistan instead killed at least 30 farm laborers resting after their day of labor in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar province.
The attack
The attack also wounded 40 peope after mistakenly targeting farmers and laborers who were just finished a day's work collecting pine nuts in the mountainous Wazir Tangi in the eastern part of Nangarhar proviince. Tribal elder Malik Gul said: "The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them.” Pine nuts are eaten in many parts of the world and are described by Wikipedia: "Pine nuts, also called piñón (Spanish: [piˈɲon]) or pinoli (Italian: [piˈnɔːli]), sometimes called pignoli in the US, are the edible seeds of pines (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus). About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines, the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of notable value as a human food."
The owner of the pine nut property said about 150 workers were there harvesting. He said that as well as those confirmed dead or wounded some were still missing. A survivor of the strike said about 200 laborers were sleeping in five tents pitched near the far when the attack took place. Juma Gul who had traveled with the laborers said: “Some of us managed to escape, some were injured but many were killed.”
Some reports give different casualty figures: "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.”"
Some angry residents of Nangarhar province demanded an apology as well as monetary compensation from the US for the attack. Javed Mansur, of Jalalabad city said: that such mistakes cannot be justified. American forces must realize that they will never win the war by killing innocent civilians.
Some sources do not report on civilian casualties
Although both the Afghan Defense Ministry and a senior US official in Kabul the capital confirmed the drone strike they did not share any details about civilian deaths. Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesperson for the US forces in Afghanistan said:“U.S. forces conducted a drone strike against Da’esh (IS) terrorists in Nangarhar. We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts.” Afghan and US officials are often reluctant to report civilian casualties and sometimes even deny reports of their happening.
ISIS in Afghanistan
ISIS forces appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and since have made inroads in both the east and the north. They are battling not only US and Afghan forces but also the Taliban. The exact number of fighters in not known and groups often switch allegiance. The US military puts the number at about 2,000. ISIS has released no announcement about the US attack.
The collapse of peace talks and renewed fighting
Even though both sides had been carrying out attacks during the peace talks an agreement in principle had been reached. Nevertheless Trump rejected the agreement and called off the talks partly because a Taliban attack had killed a US soldier. Since then both sides have increased their attacks in the 18 year old conflict.
The UN claims that in just six months this year nearly 4,000 civilians have been killed or wounded. This included a large increase in casualties caused by the Afghan and US forces.
Cases of hitting the wrong targets not uncommon
In the past there have been many cases where wrong targets were hit as in this example back in March: " For the second time in a few days, an Afghan Army base was destroyed on Wednesday — but this time by American airstrikes that followed a firefight between the Afghans and Americans, Afghan officials said.A local Afghan official said six soldiers were killed and nine others badly wounded, out of 17 soldiers at the base. Qais Mangal, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, confirmed that the airstrikes had taken place after another Afghan unit attacked a joint convoy of Afghan Special Forces and American troops. He put the death toll at five soldiers, with 10 wounded."
Another incident happened in June.
More about Afghan war, US in Afghanistan, civilian casualties in Afghanistan
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