Pentagon to make 'condolence payments' to Kunduz airstrike victims

Medical personnel treat wounded colleagues and patients after the airstrike.
Medical personnel treat wounded colleagues and patients after the airstrike.AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Pentagon announced Saturday it would make payments in compensation for those killed and injured by US airstrikes on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

The group, known by its French acronym MSF, or Medecins Sans Frontieres, has demanded an independent international investigation.

It says 33 people are still missing after the Oct 3 attack, in addition to 12 MSF staff and 10 patients already confirmed dead.

"The Department of Defence believes it is important to address the consequences of the tragic incident," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement, adding that US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) also has the authority to pay for repairs to the hospital.

"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."

Cook said USFOR-A would determine "appropriate payments" through discussions with those affected.

The attack caused MSF to close the trauma centre, seen as a lifeline in a war-battered region with scant medical care.

The strike came just days after the Taleban overran the city, with many residents wounded after pitched street battles.

US President Barack Obama has apologised to MSF, admitting the strike was a mistake.

Three separate probes - by the US military, Nato and Afghan officials - are under way.

But the charity, which has condemned the attack as a war crime, is stressing the need for an international investigation, saying the bombing raid contravened the Geneva Conventions.