US inquiry says Kunduz hospital strike an ‘accident’

Air Force gunship bombed MSF facility last month, killing 30

The US military acknowledged it could have been responsible for an air strike that hit a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, killing at least three people and leaving more than 30 missing. Video: Reuters

 

The US investigation into a deadly strike on a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last month said it was caused primarily by human error.

The inquiry concluded it was an “avoidable accident” , a top US military commander said on Wednesday.

“This was a tragic mistake. US forces would never intentionally strike a hospital or other protected facilities,” said US Army General John Campbell, the commander of international and US forces in Afghanistan.

General Campbell, unveiling the results of the investigation, told reporters at a news briefing the individuals closest to the incident have been suspended from their duties.

The gunship attack killed 30 and injured at least 37 at the facility.

The US forces who launched the air strike intended to attack a nearby Taliban-controlled compound, military officials told American media last month.

In the days before the attack, according to MSF official Jonathan Whittall, US officials were in contact with the hospital and asked if armed Taliban fighters had taken it over. MSF told the US that the patients included wounded fighters from both the Afghan army and the Taliban but that there were no armed combatants in the hospital compound.

MSF has said that in the months before the attack, it had given the hospital’s GPS coordinates to US and Nato officials.

The attack, by an Air Force AC130 gunship, lasted approximately one hour. MSF says its personnel at the hospital contacted US and Afghan forces to call off the attack, but the assault continued anyway.