US and Afghan troops drove a military vehicle through a locked gate at a Doctors Without Borders hospital, 12 days after the facility was hit in a deadly air strike, the Pentagon acknowledged Monday.
US and Afghan forces went to the hospital in Kunduz on October 15 as part of ongoing probes into the October 3 strike that killed at least 24 people, some of whom burned to death in their beds.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the troops were going to inspect damage and to determine if the structure could be rebuilt.
The convoy did not think any staff from Doctors Without Borders, known by its French abbreviation MSF, was present. Because the surrounding area had seen recent combat, the team decided not to stop.
"They had broken through that gate in the interests of safety and in the belief that MSF personnel were not on site," Davis said.
"Unbeknownst to our team there, there were MSF personnel and they were understandably not happy that we had broken that."
Davis said the troops were in an "Afghan, tracked vehicle" -- but not a tank -- and that coalition forces would fix the gate this week.
"They did it, they shouldn't have. They should have coordinated ahead of time and they are going to make it right and make sure that gate is repaired," Davis added.
An MSF spokeswoman confirmed the event to AFP last week, saying it occurred "despite an agreement made between MSF and the joint investigation team that MSF would be given notice before each step of the procedure."
"Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear for the MSF team," she said.
At least three separate probes are ongoing into what happened in the strike, which caused global revulsion and forced MSF to close the hospital's trauma center.
Davis said an initial "casualty assessment team investigation" will be released this week.
The team includes US, NATO and Afghan personnel and their focus is to officially state whether there were civilian casualties and who caused them.
More detailed probes will come later, and Davis said a preliminary military investigation is expected in the next two weeks.
"The questions that most of us have which go to the heart of root causes -- I think we will see in the second investigation, not immediately in this one," he said.