Pentagon to make payouts to Kunduz air strike victims

Candles are pictured outside the Medecins Sans Frontieres headquarters in Geneva. (Reuters)

The Pentagon announced Saturday it would make payments in compensation for those killed and injured by U.S. airstrikes on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

The group, known by its French acronym MSF, has demanded an independent international investigation.

It says 33 people are still missing after the October 3 attack, in addition to 12 MSF staff and 10 patients already confirmed dead.

A wounded Afghan man, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The U.S. air strike in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 patients and staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital wasn't the first time the escalating war has affected an aid-run medical facility. There have even been instances since. Foreign aid workers and Afghan colleagues shaken by the weekend tragedy in Kunduz, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 14-year war, say increased violence around the country makes it harder to provide basic services in a country where NGOs help provide the vast majority of healthcare. To match Insight AFGHANISTAN-HEALTH/VIOLENCE REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

A wounded Afghan man, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The U.S. air strike in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 patients and staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital wasn't the first time the escalating war has affected an aid-run medical facility. There have even been instances since. Foreign aid workers and Afghan colleagues shaken by the weekend tragedy in Kunduz, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 14-year war, say increased violence around the country makes it harder to provide basic services in a country where NGOs help provide the vast majority of healthcare. To match Insight AFGHANISTAN-HEALTH/VIOLENCE REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

“The Department of Defense believes it is important to address the consequences of the tragic incident,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement, adding that U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) also has the authority to pay for repairs to the hospital.

“One step the department can take is to make condolence payments to civilian non-combatants injured and the families of civilian non-combatants killed as a result of U.S. military operations.”

Cook said USFOR-A would determine “appropriate payments” through discussions with those affected.

The attack caused MSF to close the trauma center, seen as a lifeline in a war-battered region with scant medical care.

The strike came just days after the Taliban overran the city, with many residents wounded after pitched street battles.

U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized to MSF, admitting the strike was a mistake.

Three separate probes, by the U.S. military, NATO and Afghan officials, are under way.

But the charity, which has condemned the attack as a war crime, is stressing the need for an international investigation, saying the bombing raid contravened the Geneva Conventions.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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