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This month’s release of a U.S. military investigation examining the August 26 terrorist bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members in Kabul, Afghanistan has reportedly caused several of the victims’ family members to question the U.S. government’s official story.
The Pentagon report released earlier this month stated that the ISIS bombing at the Abbey Gate near the Kabul International Airport as the United States military was attempting to evacuate thousands from Afghanistan was “not preventable.” Several family members of the 13 service members killed in the attack told the Washington Post they have doubts about that conclusion.
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“All those Marines who were there will tell you that they felt scared,” Shana Chappell, mother of 20-year-old U.S. Marine Kareem Nikoui, who was killed in the blast, told the Washington Post. “They were surrounded by the freaking Taliban. They were out in the wide open, and they were sitting ducks.”
“They were put in an untenable situation,” the parents of deceased Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover said. “Yes, it was a humanitarian effort on their part. And they did the absolute best that they could do given the circumstances. However, they should not have been put in those circumstances in the first place.”
Chappell also took issue with the Pentagon’s conclusion that the loss of life was caused by one single bombing and believes that members of the military were hit with small arms fire after the bombing was over.
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According to the Washington Post, several Marines reported that they were targeted by gunfire during the aftermath of the bombing.
“I talked to one kid personally, face-to-face at my son’s burial,” Chappell said. “That’s how I found out about gunfire. He showed me his scar and told me had been shot.”
Another parent whose son was killed in the attack, Mark Schmitz said that he saw “MAJOR conflicting reports” in the Pentagon’s assessment and says he asked the Pentagon for some of the metal fragments that were found in his son’s body so that he can privately analyze them. He was told by the Pentagon those fragments have been discarded.
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Marine Col. C.J. Douglas said during a news conference that there is “no proof that any U.S. or Afghan person was injured or killed by gunfire” and added that the confusion could be partially attributed to “the fog of war and disorientation due to blast effects.”
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said that ball bearings from the bomb cause similar entry and exit wounds to rifle bullets.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the Pentagon backs the official report on what took place during the bombing.
“We do not pretend to understand the depths of their grief, but we respect their concerns and their unique perspectives about the loss of their loved ones,” Kirby said. “To that end, we stand by the investigation’s finding that the attack on Abbey Gate could not have been prevented and that the decision made by commanders on the ground to keep the gate open was consistent with their mission of trying to evacuate as many people as possible.”