The U.S. and Afghan governments vowed Sunday to jointly investigate the attack on a hospital in Kunduz that killed 22 people, as street-by street battles continued between government forces and Taliban fighters and officials warned of a looming humanitarian crisis for civilians trapped in the city
Amid accusations that U.S. jet fighters were responsible for what Doctors Without Borders said was a “sustained bombing” of their trauma center in Kunduz, President Barack Obama and Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani promised investigations. Obama said he expected a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the bombing, and that he would wait for those results before making a judgment. He said the U.S. would continue working with Afghanistan’s government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.
Some top U.S. officials said the circumstances surrounding the incident remain murky, but others indicated the U.S. may have been responsible. Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, said Saturday that a U.S. airstrike “in the Kunduz vicinity” around 2:15 a.m. Saturday morning “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity said American special operations forces advising Afghan commandos in the vicinity of the hospital requested the air support when they came under fire in Kunduz. The officials said the AC-130 gunship responded and fired on the area, but U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said it’s not certain yet whether that was what destroyed the hospital.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the incident publicly. They also said the senior U.S. military investigator is in Kunduz but hasn’t yet been able to get to the site because it continues to be a contested area between the Afghans and the Taliban militants.
Carter, speaking to reporters traveling with him on a trip to Spain, said, “The situation there is confused and complicated, so it may take some time to get the facts, but we will get the facts.”
Carter said he believes the U.S. will have better information in the coming days, once U.S. and international investigators get access to the hospital site.