US says deadly strike on Afghan hospital was avoidable

Army general admits human error led to US strike which killed 30 people in Kunduz trauma centre.

    US forces who launched a deadly air strike on an Afghan hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had intended to attack a nearby Taliban-controlled compound, and the mistake was caused by human and technical error, according to the US forces commander.

    As a US military investigation was released, Army General John Campbell told reporters in Kabul on Wednesday that the strike was a "tragic and avoidable accident, caused by human error".

    The October 3 air raid on the hospital, lasting at least 29 minutes, was carried out in the Taliban-held northern city of Kunduz.


    RELATED: UN says Afghan hospital bombing may have been a war crime


    MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said the US version of events raises more questions than it answers.

    "It is shocking that an attack can be carried out when US forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a no-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications systems," he said.

    "The frightening catalogue of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of US forces and violations of the rules of war.

    "The destruction of a protected facility without verifying the target - in this case a functioning hospital full of medical staff and patients - cannot only be dismissed as individual human error or breaches of the US rules of engagement," he continued, adding that the group reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation.


    OPINION: What the Afghan protests are really about


    At least 30 people were killed in the attack including 10 known patients and 13 known staff.

    The group - which had provided the US army with coordinates to avoid such disasters - withdrew staff from Kunduz the day after the attack.

    US forces "did not know the compound was an MSF medical centre," said Campbell. "They executed from air and did not take appropriate measures to verify the facility was a military target," he said, adding that "fatigue" and "high operational tempo contributed to this tragedy".

    Several service members had been suspended over the attack, he said.

     Air strike kills medical staff in Afghanistan

    The US warplane attacked the hospital at 2am. At 2:20am, MSF alerted US forces to the attack. At 2:37am, the US realised it had made a "fatal mistake", added Campbell.

    The 3,000-page US military report will be followed by other investigations, including by NATO, he said.

    Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, meanwhile, said: "The actions of air crew and special ops forces were inappropriate to the threats they faced.

    "Some US individuals did violate the rules of engagement."

    Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said: "The basic tenets of the US law of war that every US force member is taught from basic training onwards includes the principles of proportionality and distinction.

    "While General Shoffner would not address the laws of war, only saying that US forces did not follow the rules of engagement, he did imply that the attack was not proportional."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.