(NYPOST) – Multiple Afghan civilians, including relatives and children, were reportedly killed in Sunday’s US airstrike near the Kabul airport.
US officials said the drone strike wiped out a vehicle carrying multiple suicide bombers that posed an “imminent ISIS-K threat” to the city’s airport.
The exact amount of casualties was not immediately clear, but a relative of those killed told CNN that nine of his family members died in the drone strike.
Six children, ranging in age from 2 to 10, and three adults were among the dead, the relative told the news outlet.
US officials on Sunday night said they were aware of the reports on civilian deaths, but did not confirm any had occurred.
Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for the US Central Command, said in a statement that a secondary explosion from the drone strike could be to blame for additional deaths.
“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,” Urban said.
“We are still assessing the results of this strike … We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life,” the statement continued.
Two American military officials told the Associated Press that multiple suicide bombers were inside the vehicle that was targeted.
The vehicle was parked in a compound between two buildings near the airport and was struck by a Hellfire missile after individuals were seen loading explosives into the trunk, a senior US official told AP.
It appears the secondary explosion severely damaged one of the buildings next to the vehicle, the official said.
The brother of those killed told CNN that they are “an ordinary family” with no ties to any terrorist organizations.
“We are not ISIS or Daesh and this was a family home — where my brothers lived with their families,” he told the network.
At least three of the children and their father were inside their own vehicle, preparing to leave for a family event, when they were killed, the relative said.
The US airstrike is the second since Friday and comes as officials wind down the historic evacuation of tens of thousands Americans and Afghan allies from Hamid Karzai International Airport ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw.
On Thursday, a suicide attack left more than 180 people — including 13 US servicemen — dead at the airport on Thursday. And President Biden on Saturday warned that another attack could be imminent.
The US’s military cargo flights continued their runs into the airport Sunday, ahead of President Biden’s Tuesday deadline to withdraw all troops.