KABUL, Afghanistan — A drone attack carried out by U.S. forces earlier this month in western Afghanistan that apparently targeted a splinter Taliban group also killed at least 10 civilians, including three women and three children, an Afghan rights official and a council member said Wednesday.
According to the Afghan official, who is on the country’s Human Rights Commission, the strike took place in western Herat province, in the district of Shindanad. Five other civilians, including two children, were wounded, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
There was no immediate comment from the Afghan military or the U.S. forces. But Wakil Ahmad Karokhi, a provincial council member in Herat, said the Jan. 8 strike also killed the commander of a Taliban splinter group, known as Mullah Nangyalia, along with 15 other militants.
The commanders funeral the following day was held in the Herat provincial capital's Guzargah neighborhood, and was attended by dozens of militants.
Karokhi criticized the strike as “huge mistake” saying the commander had been a useful buffer against the Taliban in Shindand district, taking up arms with his fighters against the insurgents “when no one else would do it” and leaving the area’s civilians in peace.
The Taliban today control nearly half of Afghanistan, and continue to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces, even as they hold peace talks with Washington and have given a U.S. peace envoy a document outlining their offer for a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan.
Scores of Afghan civilians have also been killed in the crossfire and by roadside bombs planted by militants or in anti-Taliban operations undertaken by government forces assisted by American troops.