Governor Shaista Khan Akhtarzada of Afghanistan’s Gomal District, in Paktika Province, has announced an investigation into a series of U.S. drone strikes in the district confirmed at least 17 civilians were killed in a series of incidents.
Former Senator Haji Mohammad Hasan also confirmed the incident, saying there were three strikes in the district, and that one had killed a high-profile tribal figure, Haji Rozuddin, who was trying to mediate a land dispute.
US Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland confirmed only two of the three strikes, and insisted that there was “no evidence” that any of the slain were civilians, despite the comments from top local officials, including the district governor.
The US is often late to acknowledge civilian deaths in strikes in Afghanistan, though the Afghan Defense Ministry also claimed that they believed that the attacks in Gomal had killed Taliban. While it’s unclear how the attacks were launched, this could suggest the defense ministry was involved in the targeting, which would explain their reluctance to consider reports of civilian casualties.