KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An airstrike hit a residential building in eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing 13 civilians, an Afghan official said.
Most airstrikes in Afghanistan are carried out by the United States, and while Afghanistan has its own warplanes, another Afghan official said they had not carried out any strikes in the area. The U.S. military said it had carried out a “counterterrorism airstrike” in the area, and was investigating reports of Afghan casualties.
Esmatullah Shinwari, a lawmaker from the volatile eastern Nangarhar province, told The Associated Press that a crowd had gathered at the house in Achin district, near the Pakistani border, to welcome home a tribal leader returning from the annual hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. At least 12 people were wounded in the strike, including the tribal leader, he said.
Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal, the spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the airstrike targeted Islamic State loyalists, and that authorities were investigating reports of civilian casualties. Afghan forces backed by the U.S. military have been battling IS fighters in Achin for months.
The spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, confirmed a “counterterrorism airstrike in Achin district” early Wednesday. He said that for “operational security reasons” he could not provide further details.
“We are aware of some claims of Afghan casualties,” he said, adding that investigations were underway.
Noor Ahmad Habibi, deputy spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, said the Afghan air force had not carried out any operations in Achin district on Wednesday.
“According to our information, the airstrike in Achin district this morning was carried out by foreign forces,” he said.