Human error was the primary cause of the airstrike that killed 30 people last month at a hospital in northern Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan said.
The October 3 air raid on the French charity’s hospital during a Taliban offensive in the northern city of Kunduz killed at least 30 people, forcing the facility to close and sparking an avalanche of global condemnation.
The “tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,” General John Campbell told reporters at NATO headquarters in Kabul, adding that those most closely associated with the incident had been suspended from their duties.
He blamed in part fatigue of US troops who had been battling a Taliban offensive in Kunduz for five days, adding that the mistake was “compounded by process and equipment failures”.
“Those who called and conducted the strike did not take procedures to verify this was a legitimate target,” Campbell said.
“I can tell you that those individuals most closely associate with the incident have been suspended from their duties, pending consideration and disposition of administrative and disciplinary matters,” he said.
It was unclear how many service members had been suspended from duty.
Responding to the U.S. military investigation’s findings, Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, said, “The U.S. version of events presented today leaves MSF with more questions than answers. 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.”
“The frightening catalog of errors outlined today illustrates gross negligence on the part of U.S. forces and violations of the rules of war,” Stokes added.
He reiterated the organization’s call for an independent investigation into the airstrike.