The us military said Sunday that it carried out an airstrike “in the vicinity” of the Doctors Without Borders hospital at that time to protect American special-operations forces on the ground who came under enemy fire.
“The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility”, Colonel Brian Tribus said in a statement.
“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck”, he said.
Investigations are continuing into the bombing of the hospital on Saturday, which killed at least 19 people, including 12 of the group’s staffers.
Medecins San Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, said patients burned to death in their beds during a raid that continued for more than an hour early last Saturday, even after the U.S. and Afghan authorities were informed that the hospital in the city of Kunduz had been hit.
The U.S. military has launched an investigation into the tragedy, with President Barack Obama also offering his “deepest condolences” to those killed and wounded.
Branding the attack on the hospital in Kunduz as a “war crime”, the organisation has demanded an independent worldwide inquiry be held into the attack.
“We respect the statements by President Obama, the secretary of defense, but we feel very strongly given the nature of the events that relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient”.
MSF said the aerial raid hit the main hospital building housing the intensive care unit and emergency rooms, while the surrounding buildings were left untouched.
Twelve Doctors Without Borders staff along with seven patients, including three children, were killed after the airstrike hit the global charity’s hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. He said the US would continue working with Afghanistan’s government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.
“No medical activities are possible now in the MSF hospital in Kunduz, at a time when the medical needs are huge”, said Tim Shenk, a spokesman for the organization in New York.
Campbell, who is in the American Capital to testify before a Congressional Committee here tomorrow, said he would ensure that the investigation is transparent and open. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients and their caretakers.
The Iranian spokeswoman on Sunday condemned the attack as an “irresponsible” and “unjustifiable” move, and expressed sympathy with the Afghan nation and government, particularly the bereaved families of victims.
But Carter, as he embarked on a trip to Europe, cautioned that the situation on the ground was confused, investigators were not at the scene, and it would time to gather facts in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the site of fierce fighting.
Campbell also said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Afghan government would conduct their own investigations.
Kunduz is an important city on the Tajikistan border, a hub for smuggling routes for drugs and guns to and from Central Asian countries, and alcohol into Afghanistan, officials have said.