Kunduz hospital air strike not a war crime: US

Kabul : General Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, has said that the US personnel who bombarded a hospital in the Afghanistan’s Kunduz city last year that killed 42 people will not face war crimes charges.

The attack by US military on the Doctors Without Borders trauma center triggered global outrage, forcing President Barack Obama to make a rare apology on behalf of his country’s military.

General Votel said an investigation found that the troops involved made a series of mistakes under the stress of battle and had targeted the facility by mistake.

“The investigation concluded that certain personnel failed to comply with the rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict,” Tolo News quoted him, as saying.

“The investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of human errors, process errors and equipment failures and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital,” he added.

Asserting that the move did not add up to a war crime, he said that 16 personnel found to have failed in their duties will face administrative suspensions or reprimands rather than courts martial.

Meanwhile, the argument did not seen to appease Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international medical relief agency.

The agency had condemned the strike on its facility as a crime and repeatedly demanded an international inquiry.

“Today’s briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which US forces failed to follow the basic laws of war,” MSF president Meinie Nicolai said.

“It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off,” she said.

Arguing that the threshold for deeming an attack on a hospital a crime should not be the soldiers’ intent, she lamented that the Afghan victims of the strike have no legal recourse against the US military.

Following the strike, Obama offered his apologies to MSF apologies, but his spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday informed that the president stood by the Pentagon’s investigation.

“This is the transparent, thorough and objective accounting that the president had asked for,” he said, adding, “The United States goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and when those casualties do occur … the United States of America owns up to it.”

On October 3, last year, The US Special Forces were deployed to Kunduz alongside Afghan forces in order to recapture the northern city from the Taliban.

In an attempt to describe the location of a Taliban-occupied building around 400 yards from the hospital, the war plane targeted the wrong site due to some confusion. (ANI)