Obama apologizes for US airstrike 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Updated: 2015-10-08 10:50


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Obama apologizes for US airstrike 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Candles are pictured outside the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland October 7, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON -- US President Barack Obama has called Doctors Without Borders to apologize to it for the US mistaken bombing of the organization-run hospital in Afghanistan, White House said Wednesday.

Obama's apology came four days after at least 22 people, including 12 staff with Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), were killed in the US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Saturday. The attack shocked the international community and angered aid groups worldwide.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed President Obama called the organization's international president Joanne Liu and told her that "the Department of Defense investigation, currently underway, 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."

Doctors Without Borders called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation be conducted into the incident.

The White House spokesman refused to admit the "war crime" saying on the incident and stressed "The use of that term carries a certain legal meaning, ... the Department of Defense ...takes as many precautions as anybody else does ...to prevent the innocent loss of life in operations that they carry out."

He insisted that "there is no evidence ... has presented that this was anything other than a terrible, tragic mistake."

Investigations by the US, NATO and the Afghan government are underway. However, Doctors Without Borders urged that more are needed. The aid group wants a fact-finding mission to determine whether the attack violated the Geneva Conventions.

On Wednesday, Obama also telephoned Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to "express his condolences" and assured him with continuing cooperations with Afghan government and to provide "security" for Afghan people, according to White House.

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