A full investigation is underway in coordination with Afghanistan’s government to “determine exactly what happened” when a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, came under fire, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Saturday.
Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in an initial statement that U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz at 2:15 a.m. local time today that “may have caused collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”
A statement later in the day said the airstrike was targeting insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. service members advising and assisting Afghan security forces in the city, near a Doctors Without Borders facility.
‘A Tragic Incident’
In a statement on what he called “a tragic incident,” Carter noted that the area has been the scene of intense fighting over the last few days. U.S. forces in support of Afghan security forces were operating nearby, as were Taliban fighters, he said.
“While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected,” Carter said, adding that the United States will continue to work with its Afghan partners toward ending the ongoing violence in and around Kunduz.
Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement that he has spoken with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani regarding the incident.
“While we work to thoroughly examine the incident and determine what happened, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” Campbell said. “We continue to advise and assist our Afghan partners as they clear the city of Kunduz and surrounding areas of insurgents. As always, we will take all reasonable steps to protect civilians from harm.”
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