Sunday’s drone strike in Kabul, which Washington claims targeted a potential Daesh operative preparing a bomb attack, in fact turned out to be a horrifying military blunder that took the lives of 10 members of an Afghan family, seven of them children, according to survivors and witnesses of the nightmarish strike.
The family's car came under the deadly attack as they were about to leave their home for the airport.
The United States said Sunday it had destroyed an explosives-laden vehicle in an airstrike, thwarting a bid by Daesh to detonate a car bomb at Kabul airport.
The US missile, however, obliterated the lives of 10 Afghan civilians in an instant as it struck the family's car with a ferocious force.
"The rocket came and hit the car full of kids inside our house," said a relative.
Aimal Ahmadi said 10 members of the family died in the airstrike -- including his own daughter and five other children.
Neighbors said the house, where little boys and girls had been playing a few minutes prior, turned into a “horror scene”. They described human flesh stuck to the walls, bones fallen into the bushes and walls stained red with blood, Al Jazeera said.
Talking about one of the younger boys, Farzad, a neighbor said, “We only found his legs.”
The family had been about to go to the Kabul airport and and eventually move to the United States. The father's brother, Romal, who was also away at the time of the attack, had worked as a driver at the Afghan Ministry of Water and Energy. The men’s time with the government and affiliation with US-led foreign forces had earned the family a Special Immigrant Visa offered by the US.
The United States has not yet taken responsibility for the Afghan civilian deaths, with Pentagon press secretary John Kirby saying at a briefing on Monday, "We are not in a position to dispute it right now."
"We're assessing and we’re investigating. Make no mistake: no military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the US military," Kirby said.
Kirby only added that the US is coordinating with the Taliban — in addition to examining press reports and other methods of investigation — to determine whether civilians were killed.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said there is an investigation, noting that she cannot speak to or confirm the numbers or cases of Afghan civilian casualties in this case.
American officials still insist that the strike targeted a vehicle loaded with explosives.
"There was also the explosion -- there were explosives in this vehicle that could have led to additional damage. There's an investigation to determine how this happened. But, of course, the loss of life from anywhere is horrible, and it impacts families no matter where they're living in the United States or around the world," Psaki added.
But the Ahamdi family and the infuriated neighborhood residents brush aside the US claims that what they targeted was a potential Daesh bomber.
“We are all Afghan, we know what a car laden with explosives would do if it was struck from the sky,” said Abdol Matin, said a neighbor who grew up with the Ahmadi children.
“If you can’t manage to hit the right target, then leave Afghanistan to the Afghans,” he said.
Enraged neighbors said the Afghan family should have their names cleared and that a real investigation should take place.
Emran Feroz, an Afghan journalist based in Germany who has investigated the impact of aerial attacks on Afghan civilians for 10 years, he told Al Jazeera the fact that Sunday’s attack took place in Kabul will help draw media attention to an issue that has plagued Afghan civilians since the US-led invasion in 2001.
“It’s very symbolic that US operations in Afghanistan started with drone strikes and ended with drone strikes. It seems they’ve learned nothing in 20 years,” he said.