US officials say multiple errors led to MSF hospital strike

Investigative report indicates combination of errors lie behind MSF hospital bombing in Kunduz, Afghanistan

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

An employee of Doctors Without Borders stands amid the charred remains of the medical charity's hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

US military officials said American air strikes targeted a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last month as a result of "human errors, failures in procedure and technical malfunctions."

On October 3, US AC-130 warship directed its cannon shells on the hospital shooting non-stop over 30 minutes. Following the strikes, 30 people were killed and at least 37 others were wounded.

Pentagon said that a 3,000-page investigative file examining about the Oct. 3 air strike will be unveiled on Wednesday.

"General Campbell will reveal on Wednesday [the findings of] the inquiry into the attack on the hospital in Kunduz," US Department of Defense spokesman Peter Cook told reporters during a daily briefing on Tuesday.

According to Cook, US tactical air support operations should review and strictly plan before the attacks to avoid deadly mistakes.

"The proper protocols need to be followed both in Afghanistan and around the world," he said.

On the eve of the release, a military official who spoke on the condition of ananomity said the "crew had been unable to rely on the aircraft’s instruments to find the target.”

“Instead, they relied on verbal descriptions of the location that were being relayed by troops on the ground, a mix of American and Afghan Special Forces” and they targeted the hospital compound believing it to be a Taliban base, he added.

Following the attack, Medecins Sans Frontieres claimed that officials from the group made a series of frantic calls to the American command and other offices to try to cease the attack.

Witnesses also said that the jet kept shooting directly at the people who were trying to flee the hospital.

Christopher Stokes, the general director of the charity said at a news conference in Kabul this month that “A mistake is quite hard to understand and believe at this stage.”

Shortly after the bombing, US President Barack Obama apologized for the deadly incident when he spoke with MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu over the phone.

The group found the apology insufficient and demanded that an international humanitarian commission should be assigned to investigate the attack.

"Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body," Stokes said in a statement following the Obama’s phone call to the charity.

TRTWorld and agencies