Kuchi elders urge govt to probe drone strike
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Kuchi tribe elders on Sunday held a protest gathering to condemn Friday’s drone strike that killed several people attending a funeral prayer in southeastern Khost province.
Officials had said the drone targeted the burial ceremony for a slain Taliban commander in the Bati Thani area of the Alisher district near the Pakistani border, killing 34 militants.
But residents, including a Kuchi tribe representative in the national assembly, said the funeral was for a tribal elder and the strike killed a total of 15 people, all civilians.
Khost deputy governor Abdul Wahid Patan had earlier said the dead included some civilians, but militants were in a majority. He said the drone had targeted the funeral ceremony of a Taliban commander.
But lawmaker Haidar Jan Naeemzoi and some Kuch tribe elders insisted the killed persons were Kuchi tribesmen.
They were hit while returning from the funeral in two pick up vehicles, said participants of the protest gathering.
Salim Khan Naeemzoi, the son of Naeem Kuchi, told Pajhwok Afghan News nine of the victims belonged to two families.
“We want the president to dispatch a delegation to investigate whether the slain individuals were Taliban or peaceful citizens,” he said.
The Kuch council chief, Haji Gul Marjan, demanded punishment for the killers to prevent such incidents in future.
"Those involved in Friday’s bombardment should be tried and be made an example for others to follow in future.”
Nazir Khan, an elder, regretted the current insecurity situation in the country and said attacks which resulted in the killing of innocent people would further deteriorate the situation.
He said people could not restrain themselves from attending social and religious rituals such as digging of graves and participating in funerals. He urged the government to punish those responsible for the drone strike.
Patan said a delegation had been dispatched to the area to investigate the issue.
The NATO Resolute Support (RS) mission in a statement had confirmed the drone strike and said it killed and wounded insurgents in Khost.
"The RS had received information about civilian casualties in the attack and had started investigations in this regard.”
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