President Obama apologizes as Doctors Without Borders seeks probe of Afghan hospital bombing
President Obama apologizes as Doctors Without Borders seeks probe of Afghan hospital bombing

President Obama apologizes as ‘Doctors’ Without Borders seeks probe of Afghan hospital bombing

President Obama apologized Wednesday to the leader of Doctors Without Borders over the deadly U.S. bombing of a field hospital in Afghanistan, just a day after the White House stopped short of an apology by citing a lack of information about what led to the attack.

MSF’s president Dr Joanne Liu said she had recieved an apology over the attack on facility in the city of Kunduz that killed at least 22 people, including 12 MSF medics and 10 patients.

However, the charity wants a full, independent, investigation into the bombing.

She said: “We reiterate our ask that the U.S. government consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to establish what happened in Kunduz, how it happened, and why it happened.”

President Obama telephoned Dr Liu to apologise for a deadly air strike on the aid group’s hospital which happened over the weekend.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the President said the investigation would “provide a transparent, thorough and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident”.

The White House will also make changes to stop similar incidents happening in the future.

Mr Earnest said: “There is no evidence that … I’ve seen or that anybody else has presented that indicate that this was anything other than a terrible, tragic accident.”

He added that the Pentagon’s investigation will look into the conduct of individuals involved in the attack as well as the rules of engagement.

Mr Obama also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to express condolences for the lives lost of patients and staff during the strike.

The President’s apology comes the day after the US military’s chief of operations in Afghanistam, General John F Campbell, admitted the bombing of the hospital was a mistake.

Speaking to a Senate committee, the General said: ” “The decision to provide airstrikes was a US decision, made within the US chain of command.

“The hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”

The General said the attack had been requested by Afghan troops, after the US had been told there were terrorists nearby.

However, a spokesman for the Taliban said none of its fighters were killed in the attack.

The Taliban has been insurgent in the Kunduz region recently, with Afghan forces calling on the US to help them.

The United Nation’s (UN) human rights chief has described the strikes as “tragic, inexcusable and possibly even criminal”.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged a full and transparent investigation into the attack.

He said: “This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal.

“International and Afghan military planners have an obligation to respect and protect civilians at all times, and medical facilities and personnel are the object of a special protection. These obligations apply no matter whose air force is involved, and irrespective of the location.”

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said: “The Secretary-General recalls that hospitals and medical personnel are explicitly protected under international humanitarian law.”

And Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said hospitals must never be attacked.

He said: “I reiterate my call on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel and facilities.”

MSF said that US forces were repeatedly warned that the target was a hospital but continued with the strike anyway.

However, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said it asked American warplanes to bomb the building because there were “10 to 15 terrorists” hiding out inside.

The charity tweeted the “precise location” including the GPS co-ordinates of the hospital was communicated to both US and Afghan forces several times over the past few months, including as recently as last Tuesday.

It added: “Bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American & Afghan military officials in Kabul & Washington first informed of proximity to hospital. We urgently seek clarity on exactly what took place & how this terrible event could have happened in #Kunduz. #Afghanistan.”


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