An investigation from the U.S. concluded that last month’s deadly bombing to the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was a mistake caused by human error of the U.S. military.
So it said General John Campbell, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, explaining that the tragedy had been avoidable and it was caused by procedural failures. The attack claimed the life of 30 people, and U.S. personnel involved in the decision, such as pilots and special operation soldiers, were suspended from service and may face disciplinary action.
The military mission was meant to target the Afghan intelligence service’s headquarters after being informed the Taliban had seized the building. Instead, American personnel mistakenly targeted the MSF hospital, which is located hundreds of meters apart.
The bombing happened despite the fact that the medical facility was in a no-strike list and representatives from the institution called to alert the U.S. forces during the attack.
Campbell explained that, following the investigation, the target confusion was caused by a technical error in the AC-130 aircraft’s mapping system that made it detour from its original path. Without the exact coordinates, pilots tried to spot the target by visual identification and attacked the MSF hospital instead of the intended headquarters. The aircraft had eventually showed the right location and there was no apparent hostile activity on the site, but U.S. forces decided to proceed anyway.
Adding up to the series of errors, the aircraft had taken off without conducting a regular mission brief and without access to important information such as the no-strike list that protected the MSF hospital. The gunship’s malfunction also hindered communication systems.
According to the investigation, the strike lasted almost half an hour, from 2:08 a.m. to 2:37 a.m. The attack was reported to the Bagram air base at 2:20 a.m. by an MSF caller, but U.S. forces wouldn’t stop firing until minutes later.
“It is shocking that an attack can be carried out when U.S. forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a no-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications systems,” expressed MSF’s Stokes, while also saying that the tragedy demonstrated a “gross negligence” from the U.S. Forces.
Campbell stated that the U.S. military would help rebuild the hospital. Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner added that chaos didn’t justify this tragedy, and U.S. forces would do everything they could to prevent such incident from repeating in the future.
Source: Washington Post