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US to Make 'Condolence Payments' to Families of Victims in Afghan Hospital Bombing

The Pentagon says it will offer payments to the families of civilians who were killed or injured when a US airstrike hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital last week.
Un jeune garçon blessé par la frappe américaine (Photo par Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)

The Pentagon says it will offer "condolence payments" to the families of civilians who were killed or injured when the US bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern Afghanistan last week.

"The Department of Defense believes it is important to address the consequences of the tragic incident at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. "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 US military operations."


The attack on October 3 killed 23 people and wounded 37 others. General John Campbell, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that US Special Forces on the ground called in a strike from an AC-130 gunship. Campbell called the incident a "mistake," and President Barack Obama subsequently apologized to Doctors Without Borders.

US forces in Afghanistan are authorized to make "condolence payments" under the Commanders' Emergency Response Program. The Pentagon statement said the US would also pay to repair the hospital, and that they "will work with those affected to determine appropriate payments."

Related: The Pentagon Keeps Changing Its Story About the Hospital it Bombed in Afghanistan

The US has paid the family members of civilian casualties numerous times in the past, and does not consider the payments to be an admission of wrongdoing. According to the New York Times, "there has been no public, systematic account of how frequently it has made them or how much money it has spent on them."

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has called the Kunduz attack a "war crime," and a "grave violation of international law." The humanitarian organization said it had shared the GPS coordinates of its hospital with both US and Afghan forces previously, yet it said the facility was "repeatedly hit very precisely" by bombs for more than an hour.


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Saturday that he has appointed a team of investigators to look into the airstrike and the Taliban's brief capture of Kunduz. Insurgents overran the city on September 28 and held it for three days before government troops launched a counteroffensive.

According to Ghani, as quoted by the Associated Press, the five-man "fact-finding team" will deliver a "comprehensive report so that we know what happened in Kunduz, what kind of reforms should be brought and what are the lessons learned for the future."

Afghan troops have been fighting to clear out the remaining Taliban insurgents in Kunduz for the past 10 days. Residents have reported food and water shortages, as well as power outages. One Kunduz resident, Abdullah, told AP that many people have fled.

"The whole city is empty of people," Abdullah said. "Residents are still not feeling safe."

Related: Nurse Describes 'Unspeakable' Horror as Bombs Hit Doctors Without Borders Hospital

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