US investigation says Afghan hospital strike was ‘a tragic mistake’
The U.S. investigation into a deadly Oct. 3 strike on a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz concluded it was a tragic accident caused primarily by human error, a top U.S. military commander said on Wednesday.
“This was a tragic mistake. U.S. forces would never intentionally strike a hospital or other protected facilities,” U.S. Army General John Campbell, the commander of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said at a news conference to announce the results of the investigation.
Campbell said the individuals closest to the incident have been suspended from their duties.
The attack killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff.
The investigation found that U.S. forces, partly because of a technical error, misidentified the hospital and believed they were striking another building in the city.
The U.S. military confirmed that Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, had called 12 minutes into the strike to inform the U.S.-led coalition that they were under attack.
Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, the deputy chief of staff for communication for international forces in Afghanistan, said that by the time the U.S. forces realized their mistake, the AC-130 gunship had stopped firing on the MSF facility.
“The investigation found that some of the U.S. individuals involved did not follow the rules of engagement,” Shoffner said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott