US says Afghans asked for air strike at Kunduz hospital
Afghan forces who said they were under Taliban fire asked for the US air strike that killed 22 people at a hospital in Kunduz, the US commander in Afghanistan has said.
“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck,” General John Campbell said on Monday at a press conference at the Pentagon.
The general declined to comment on the rules under which the US forces were operating, but he promised a thorough and transparent investigation and pledged “we’ll hold those responsible accountable and take steps to ensure mistakes are not repeated”.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has questioned the US version of events leading up to the bombing and called for an independent probe.
“Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government,” Christopher Stokes, General Director of MSF, said in a statement.
“There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation
ever more critical.” The US military had previously reported that its own troops were under fire and had called in the strike, which was carried out by an AC-130 gunship. Guinea’s authorities imposed an overnight curfew on the second city of Nzerekore after clashes left at least one person dead, local media report.
Fighting broke out on Saturday after a campaign visit from President Alpha Conde who is running for re-election.
Backers of the president clashed with supporters of his rival Cellou Dalein Diallo in this hotly contested city.
Opposition parties have called for Sunday’s election to be postponed over alleged irregularities in the process.
Nzerekore is the stronghold of former military junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara, who recently attempted to return to Guinea from exile to run for president. His party has now entered alliance with Mr Diallo. President Conde is facing seven challengers in the second election since the death of the long-serving leader Lansana Conte.
Afghans in in Kabul donate blood for those injured in Kunduz fighting [EPA]