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US Commander: Afghans Requested Strike That Hit Hospital


Doctors Without Borders says the U.S. strike on a hospital in Kunduz that was meant to hit Taliban targets was “a war crime.” The top U.S. general in Afghanistan, John Campbell, has ordered an investigation into the incident and says preliminary results should be available in the next couple of days.

Destruction in the unlikeliest of places…
A hospital, a place those injured in war had sought out as a refuge.

The group Doctors Without Borders says the strike killed 22, including hospital staff and children.

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan told reporters the Afghan military called for the airstrike against Taliban fighters in the area.

“The Afghan forces called in for fire to support them because they were under direct fire," said General John Campbell.

Campbell said U.S. forces are in Kunduz advising Afghan forces, but earlier reports that U.S. forces there were taking fire from the Taliban were inaccurate.

Doctors Without Borders has issued a statement saying:

"The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs... The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits…There can be no justification for this horrible attack."

“If errors were committed, we will acknowledge them. We’ll hold those responsible accountable and we will take steps to ensure mistakes are not repeated," said General Campbell.

The hospital in Kunduz after an alleged U.S. airstrike Saturday killed at least 19 people, including three children, according to officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF.

The hospital in Kunduz after an alleged U.S. airstrike Saturday killed at least 19 people, including three children, according to officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF.

In the fog of war, analysts say tragedies like this one cannot be prevented, no matter how cautious the U.S. may be.

“When you have seconds or minutes in which to react, when you’re getting confusing messages from very different echelons of command, when you can’t wait for some ideal rules of engagement to be met, you’re going to have these incidents," said Anthony Cordesman.

In a statement sent to VOA, the Taliban denied the presence of its fighters in the hospital at the time of the strike.

The U.S. has criticized the Taliban for staying and fighting from within the city, which General Campbell says is “knowingly putting civilians at significant risk.”

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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