Obama promises full probe into air strike on hospital
UNITED States President Barack Obama on Saturday offered his "deepest condolences" over a suspected US air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people, and promised a thorough probe of the incident.
United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also called for a full and transparent probe, noting that, "if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime. This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable and possibly even criminal," he said.
In a statement on Saturday, Mr Obama said: "On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to the medical professionals and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.
"The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy."
The attack early Saturday left the building engulfed in flames, and dozens of people seriously wounded, with photos posted by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders in English) showing their staff shocked and dazed.
In Kabul, the Afghan Ministry of Defence said Taliban fighters had attacked the hospital and were using the building "as a human shield".
But MSF denied this yesterday. "The gates of the hospital compound were closed all night so no one that is not staff, a patient or a caretaker was inside the hospital when the bombing happened."
The aid group said that prior to the air strike, probably carried out by US-led coalition forces, it had given the location of the hospital to both Afghan and US forces several times in the past few months to avoid being caught in crossfire.
The US military said it conducted an air strike "in the vicinity" of the hospital, as it targeted Taliban insurgents who were directly firing on US military personnel.