Obama apologises for airstrike on Kunduz hospital

RSTV Bureau
Geneva: Francoise Saulnier, Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF, lead counsel, Joanne Liu, President of MSF International, and Bruno Jochum, Director General of MSF Switzerland, from left to right, attend a news conference on the US air strike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2015. PTI Photo

Geneva: Francoise Saulnier, Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF, lead counsel, Joanne Liu, President of MSF International, and Bruno Jochum, Director General of MSF Switzerland, from left to right, attend a news conference on the US air strike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2015. PTI Photo

US President Barack Obama has apologised to the head of Doctors Without Borders and promised a thorough investigation into the the deadly American airstrike on its hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that killed 22 people, including women and children.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama called the head of medical charity Doctors without Borders (MSF) chief Joanne Liu “to apologise and express his condolences” over the weekend attack.

“The President assured Dr. Liu that the Department of Defense investigation currently under way would provide a transparent, thorough and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident and, if necessary, the President would implement changes that would make tragedies like this one less likely to occur in the future,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the press.

“When we make a mistake, we’re honest about it, we own up to it, we apologise where necessary as the President did in this case and we implement the kinds of changes that make it less likely that those kinds of mistakes will occur in the future,” Earnest added.

He also said that during the phone conversation, Obama assured Dr. Liu of a thorough and objective accounting of the facts and told her that the US would probably make amends to stop similar tragedies from taking place.

MSF has condemned the attack as a war crime and has been demanding an international probe into the killing of 22 people.

The medical charity demanded an international probe after General John Campbell, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said that the “hospital was mistakenly struck.”

The charity brushed Campbell’s explanation, saying “a mistake is not an answer for us.”

The US has given multiple accounts of the airstrike in the last few days. Earlier they had called the bombing a “collateral damage”. It had also claimed that the strike was carried out to protect American troops.

Three separate investigations are already underway in the matter. The US military, NATO and Afghan officials are simultaneously investigating the airstrike.

Meanwhile, President Obama also spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the matter.

“After completing that call, the President telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to express his condolences for the innocent loss of life in that incident,” Earnest said in his statement.

Obama reiterated to Ghani that the US Department of Defence would conduct a transparent, thorough and objective investigation into the incident.

(With inputs from PTI)