U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a new statement late on Sunday evening regarding the strike that was carried out earlier in the day against a target that was purportedly involved in an ISIS plot against the airport in Kabul.
“We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “We are still assessing the results of this strike, which we know disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat to the airport. We know that there were substantial and powerful subsequent explosions resulting from the destruction of the vehicle, indicating a large amount of explosive material inside that may have caused additional casualties.”
“It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further,” the statement added. “We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life.”
The statement, from Capt. Bill Urban, USN, U.S. Central Command Spokesman, came in response to a report from CNN that alleged “nine members of one family, including six children, were killed in the drone strike,” according to a person claiming to be the brother of one of the people killed in the strike.
“The vehicle that was targeted by the US in Sunday’s airstrike on Kabul was next to a building and contained one suicide bomber,” CNN reported, according to a U.S. official who allegedly briefed the network. “It remains unclear if the vehicle was intended to be a car bomb, or if the suicide bomber was using it for transport.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that a senior Afghan health official, who was not part of the Taliban and who had worked with the U.S.-backed government that was recently in power, said that the strike killed several civilians and hit a house.
CENTCOM said in a statement earlier on Sunday:
U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport.
We are confident we successfully hit the target. Significant secondary explosions from the vehicle indicated the presence of a substantial amount of explosive material.
We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time. We remain vigilant for potential future threats.
The official said that the vehicle was “loaded up and ready to go.”
The strike came hours after the U.S. State Department sent out an alert during the early morning hours on Sunday instructing U.S. citizens to immediately leave the airport in Kabul and the surrounding area “due to a specific, credible threat.”
The warning came hours after President Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday afternoon that the situation on the ground was “extremely dangerous, and the threat of terrorist attacks on the airport remains high.”
“Our commanders informed me that an attack is highly likely in the next 24-36 hours,” the president added.