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Afghan Official Alleges Civilian Casualties In U.S. Drone Strike

FILE: A MQ-1B Predator aircraft assigned to the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron lands at Afghanistan's Kandahar airfield.

There are conflicting reports of possible civilian casualties from a suspected U.S. drone strike in eastern Afghanistan.

Esmatullah Shinwari, a local lawmaker in Nangarhar Province, was quoted by AP as saying on September 28 that at least 13 civilians were killed when the strike hit a house where people had gathered to celebrate a local tribal leader’s return from the hajj in Saudi Arabia.

Shinwari said the tribal leader and 11 others were wounded in the incident.

However, local police chief Mohammed Ali was quoted as saying 18 people, including “15 [Islamic State] militants and three civilians” were killed in the attack.

A spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan confirmed “a counterterrorism strike in Achin district” of Nangarhar Province and said reports of civilian casualties are being investigated.

Afghan and U.S. forces have been fighting IS militants in the district for several months.

Civilian casualties resulting from U.S. air strikes have been a source of intense friction between the United States and the Afghan government.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters