US still refuses to approve independent investigation of Kunduz hospital bombing
There are three different investigations being carried out of the air attack by an AC-130 gunship on a hospital run by Doctors without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
The three investigations are led by U.S., NATO, and Afghan officials. All are themselves connected to the attack. MSF has demanded an independent investigation. The death toll from the U.S. air strike has now reached 30 and could yet go higher.MSF wants the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to investigate the attack:The IHFFC was activated in the middle of October according to MSF:While the MSF noted that it had received apologies and condolences, Joanne Liu, the MSF head said this was not enough:The official U.S. story has changed several times. Testifying before a U.S. Senate committee, General John Campbell, commander of the U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan, gave a fourth account of the attack. He said Afghan forces had requested air cover while fighting with the Taliban near the hospital. Unlike an earlier account he had given he now admitted that Afghan forces had no direct communication with the pilots of the AC-130 gunship that carried out the attack. Campbell said:U.S. special operations analysts were busy gathering intelligence on the hospital days before it was destroyed in the attack. The group believed the hospital was being used by a Pakistani intelligence operative to coordinate Taliban activity. Originally the attack was explained as an attempt to protect U.S. troops in a firefight, then it was supposedly ordered by Afghans, and finally it turns out that it was ordered by U.S. special forces but was a mistake. Surely the special forces would have the information from intelligence sources about the supposed use of the hospital as a command unit to direct the Taliban battle. According to one report:
The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) is an international body that is available to perform investigations of possible breaches of international humanitarian law. The Commission may investigate matters to determine what has happened, but does not pass judgement on issues it raises.
"MSF has been informed that the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission has been activated. This is the first step needed to undertake an independent investigation into the attack."Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the U.S. would work with those affected by the attack to determine appropriate amounts of compensation. However, the U.S. has not agreed to an independent investigation as the MSF demands, and in spite of the fact that the IHFFC has been activated. The Commission vice-president, Thilo Marauhn, sent letters to the United States and Afghanistan asking for permission to go ahead with their investigation. So far there has been no response from either party.
"We are still in the dark about why a well-known hospital full of patients and medical staff was repeatedly bombarded for more than an hour. We need to understand what happened and why."
“Even though the Afghans request that support, it still has to go through a rigorous US procedure to enable fires to go on the ground. We had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires.”Campbell insists the hospital was mistakenly struck. This explanation is hard to accept. The coordinates of the hospital were regularly shared. There is another reason to disbelieve the "mistake explanation" as well.
After the attack — which came amidst a battle to retake the northern Afghan city of Kunduz from the Taliban — some U.S. analysts assessed that the strike had been justified, the former officer says. They concluded that the Pakistani, believed to have been working for his country’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, had been killed.The mistake may not have been bombing the hospital but acting upon false intelligence.