US Story About Hospital Airstrike Changes Yet Again

Doctors Without Borders wants to know why it's the 4th version in 4 days
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2015 1:03 PM CDT
US Story About Hospital Airstrike Changes Yet Again
Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday.   (M?decins Sans Fronti?res via AP)

Details continue to emerge about Saturday's bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, with the US military commander in Afghanistan testifying Tuesday that it was due to US directive. "To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fires was a US decision made within the US chain of command," Gen. John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee, per the New York Times. "A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility." But the nonprofit—also known by its French initials, MSF—wants to know why the official US story has had four incarnations since the airstrike and claims the US is simply trying blame the Afghans, the Guardian reports. "The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition," the MSF director said Tuesday.

First the US claimed it wasn't sure it had struck the hospital, followed by a statement Sunday that the bombing—which killed at least 22, per the AP—was accidental. On Monday Campbell said it was the Afghans who requested the airstrike, while in Tuesday's testimony, he said the pilots of the US AC-130 gunship didn't have direct communication with Afghan forces, but with US special forces on the ground who called in the strike—an admission that has MSF fuming. "Statements from the Afghanistan government have claimed that Taliban forces were using the hospital to fire on coalition forces," MSF President Joanne Liu said Tuesday, a claim MSF denies. "These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime." Doctors Without Borders says it wants an impartial probe—i.e., not by the US, Afghanistan, or NATO, the Guardian notes. (It could be tough proving the bombing was a war crime.)

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