At least 15 civilians were killed and 13 wounded in a U.S. unmanned aircraft strike in eastern Afghanistan, the United Nations said, calling for an independent investigation into the incident.
The airstrike early on Wednesday morning hit what U.S. officials said was an Islamic State target in the Achin district of Nangarhar province.
Government officials said the strike killed some militants, but the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported the victims were civilians, including students, a teacher, and members of families considered to be “pro-government”.
“UNAMA reiterates the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law,” the United Nations said in a statement.
“UNAMA calls on the government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident.”
All the civilians reported killed were men, it added.
The men had gathered in a village to welcome a local elder on his return from completing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were sleeping when the strike happened, witnesses said.
The strike occurred in a remote area near the Pakistan border that has become a stronghold for Islamic State in Afghanistan.
The U.S. military command confirmed the air strike in Achin was aimed at militants, but said it was gathering information on the allegations of civilian casualties.