US to pay victims of air strike on hospital

WASHINGTON • The Pentagon has announced that it will make payments in compensation for those killed or injured by a United States air strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

The group, known by its French acronym MSF, has demanded an independent international investigation. It says 33 people are still missing following the Oct 3 attack. Twelve MSF staff and 10 patients have been 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 on Saturday, 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."

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

The attack led MSF to close the trauma centre - a lifeline in a war-battered region with scant medical care. The strike came just days after the Taleban overran the city, where many residents were wounded following pitched street battles.

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

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

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'US to pay victims of air strike on hospital'. Print Edition | Subscribe