The U.S. military carried out drone strikes against a suspected Islamic State hideout in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, but local authorities said the attack also killed multiple civilians.
There are conflicting reports about the number of civilians killed. Police said 15 people were killed and six wounded. The Provincial Council said the attack killed 35 people. Another report said there were 40 people injured in the drone strike.
The air strike by U.S, forces targeted Islamic State terrorists, Col. Sonny Leggett said in an emailed statement. The terrorist group also is referred to as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
“We are fighting in a complex environment against those who intentionally kill and hide behind civilians, as well as use dishonest claims of non-combatant casualties as propaganda weapons,” Leggett said. “We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts to ensure this is not a ploy to deflect attention from the civilians murdered by the Taliban at a hospital in Zabul earlier today.”
Leggett is referring to the Taliban attack on a government hospital Thursday that killed at least 20 people and wounded 100 more. Terrorists reportedly detonated a vehicle bomb near the hospital and the National Directorate of Security office in Qaalat, Afghanistan.
The Taliban said they were targeting the security office, not the hospital. Government officials said all the casualties came from the hospital, not the security office.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said air strikes killed and injured 519 people from January through June, a 39 percent increase from the same period last year.