Pentagon to release report into Afghan hospital attack

AFP , Thursday 28 Apr 2016

The Pentagon is poised to release the final report on its investigation into a deadly air strike on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan, a defense official said Thursday.

Last October's bombing of the facility in Kunduz -- which came as NATO-backed Afghan forces clashed with insurgents for control of the northern provincial capital -- left 42 people dead.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told AFP the approximately 3,000-page report could be made public as soon as Friday, but the document will be heavily redacted.

The US military has already blamed human error for the disaster, in which a special operations AC-130 gunship aircraft targeted the hospital instead of a nearby Afghan intelligence compound that was thought to have been commandeered by Taliban fighters.

In November, General John Campbell, who at the time of the strike was the US commander in Afghanistan, said the incident was a "tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error."

MSF condemned the airstrike as a war crime and has repeatedly demanded an international investigation.

The raid left patients burning in their beds, with some victims decapitated and others suffering traumatic amputations.

Military officials have previously said more than 10 US troops faced administrative action over the disaster.

Citing unnamed US officials, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that the military has disciplined 16 individuals.

These include a two-star general, crew from the AC-130 and special forces personnel, the Times reported.

The punishments were all administrative, meaning they were not at the level of a court-martial.

Administrative discipline in the military is not criminal but can end a career.

In the days after the attack, the US military offered a series of shifting explanations before President Barack Obama admitted in a call to MSF chief Joanne Liu that it had been a mistake and apologized.

The Pentagon has said it would pay compensation to the families of those killed.

Last November, Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner said some of those involved had failed to follow the rules of engagement.

In Syria on Wednesday, government air strikes hit an MSF-supported hospital and nearby block of flats in Aleppo's rebel-held Sukkari neighborhood.

MSF said 14 people were killed in the hospital. Among the dead was the last pediatrician still working in rebel areas of the city.

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