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Some in US military suspended for Afghan hospital attack

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2015 | 11:15 AM
An employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on October 15.


United States (US) soldiers and airmen who killed and wounded dozens of civilians in a strike on an Afghanistan hospital violated the rules of engagement and have been suspended as they await disciplinary action, US military officials said yesterday.

Briefing reporters on the results of two investigations, General John Campbell, the US commander in Afghanistan, described an egregious series of human and technical failures that led a US warplane to mistakenly destroy a medical charity's hospital in northern Afghanistan last month. But Campbell and other officials would not say how many people had been removed from their jobs or whether those high up the chain of command will be subject to discipline.

Officials said the crew of an AC-130 gunship had been dispatched to hit a Taliban command centre in a different building, 450 yards (metres) away. However, hampered by problems with their targeting sensors, the crew relied on a physical description that led them to begin firing at a hospital run by the Doctors Without Borders medical charity, even though they saw no hostile activity there.

Many chances to avert the error were missed, officials said.