A US investigation has determined that the Oct. 3 air strike in Afghanistan that destroyed a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and killed 30 people was an avoidable accident caused primarily by human error.
Some American personnel were suspended and could face disciplinary action after failing to follow US rules of engagement in a war zone, 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,” Reuters quoted General John Campbell, who leads international forces in Afghanistan, as saying at a news conference in Kabul.
According to the US investigation, US forces had meant to target a different building in the city and were led off-track by a technical error in their aircraft’s mapping system that initially directed them to an empty field.
The US forces then looked for a target that was visually similar to the one they had originally sought – the former National Directorate of Security headquarters in Kunduz, which they believed was occupied by insurgents.
“Tragically, this misidentification continued throughout the remainder of the operation even though there were contradictory indicators,” Campbell said.
MSF’s general director Christopher Stokes, meanwhile, said in a statement Wednesday that the investigation illustrated “gross negligence” by US forces.
“The frightening catalog of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of US forces and violations of the rules of war,” Stokes said.
“MSF reiterates its call for an independent and impartial investigation into the attack on our hospital in Kunduz,” he added.
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