KABUL - A US airstrike that led to several civilian casualties in Afghanistan was the result of a missile malfunction, according to a press release from Resolute Support Mission, the NATO endeavor to train and support anti-terror forces in the Islamic Republic.
"Tragically one of the missiles malfunctioned, causing several casualties," the press release read. The vague statement did not make clear how many casualties there were, what caused the missile to malfunction, or if anyone was killed.
"Resolute Support deeply regrets the harm to non-combatants. We take every precaution to avoid civilian casualties, even as the enemies of Afghanistan continue to operate in locations that deliberately put civilians at very high risk," the press release went on to say.
The airstrike was in response to a Wednesday attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where US Defense Secretary James Mattis was to arrive for an official visit. Militants fired rocket propelled grenades and mortar bombs at the airport in a strike claimed by both Daesh and the Taliban. One person was killed and four were wounded in that attack, according to Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najibn Danish.
However, the US military withheld the exact timing of Mattis' arrival for security reasons. He had already left the airport when the attack occurred.
In reply, Afghan Special Forces counterattacked a trio of bombers, who holed themselves up in a nearby building. At one point, the Afghan forces called in a US airstrike . This was when the malfunction and civilian deaths occurred.
The number dead from the US-strike is unknown at this time. One official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to Reuters, said that the three terrorists were killed and 13 civilians were wounded, but these numbers are unconfirmed.