US probe says Afghan hospital strike was tragic accident

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WASHINGTON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. investigation into a deadly Oct. 3 strike on a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz concluded it was a tragic accident caused primarily by human error, a top U.S. military commander said on Wednesday.

"This was a tragic mistake. U.S. forces would never intentionally strike a hospital or other protected facilities," U.S. Army General John Campbell, the commander of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said at a news conference to announce the results of the investigation.

Campbell said the individuals closest to the incident have been suspended from their duties.

The attack killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff.

The investigation found that U.S. forces, partly because of a technical error, misidentified the hospital and believed they were striking another building in the city.

See photos from the deadly blast:

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U.S. airstrike on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan
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US probe says Afghan hospital strike was tragic accident
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2015, file photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders stands inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit at least a half dozen medical facilities in Syria, according to activists. In Yemen, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Still, apart from rights groups condemnations, thereÂs been little international outcry, in contrast to a U.S. strike on a hospital in Afghanistan that killed 30 people. (Najim Rahim via AP, File)
The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz . Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz . Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike, says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The head of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
Afghan employees of a Doctors Without Borders hospital move debris of its damaged gate in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Taliban fighters took control of the key northern city late last month, leading to a protracted battle with Afghan forces supported by U.S. airstrikes. During the fighting, a U.S. air attack hit the hospital, killing at least 12 Doctors Without Borders staff and 10 patients. (AP Photo/Najim Rahim)
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2015 file photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The Army Green Berets who called in the deadly strike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control, raising questions about whether the air strike violated international law.. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The attack, which killed a number of hospital staff and patients, was intended to back up Afghan forces fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran the strategic city earlier in the month. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, an employee of the Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Christopher Stokes, general director of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike, says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, Christopher Stokes, the general director of the medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, stands near the charred remains of the organizations' hospital, after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Stokes says the Âextensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
In this Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The head of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike says the extensive, quite precise destruction of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake. (Najim Rahim via AP)
FILE -In this Oct. 14, 2015 file photo, the charred remains of the Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after being hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The Army Green Berets who called in the deadly strike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control, raising questions about whether the air strike violated international law. (Najim Rahim via AP)
FILE -- In this Oct. 15, 2015 file photo, Christopher Stokes, the general director of medical charity Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French abbreviation MSF, stands at the gate of the organization's hospital, after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Russian airstrikes have reportedly hit at least a half dozen medical facilities in Syria, according to activists. In Yemen, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Still, apart from rights groups condemnations, theres been little international outcry, in contrast to a U.S. strike on a hospital in Afghanistan that killed 30 people. (Najim Rahim via AP, File)
Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (2140 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Campbell pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Situation in Afghanistan. U.S. forces attacked a hospital in northern Afghanistan last weekend, killing at least 22 people, despite "rigorous" U.S. military procedures designed to avoid such mistakes, the top commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The burnt Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen after an explosion in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)
Afghan security forces take a wounded civilian man to the hospital after Taliban fighter's attack, in Kunduz city, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Three staff from Doctors Without Borders were killed and 30 were missing after an explosion near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. (AP Photo/Dehsabzi)
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Campbell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Situation in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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The U.S. military confirmed that Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, had called 12 minutes into the strike to inform the U.S.-led coalition that they were under attack.

Brigadier General Wilson Shoffner, the deputy chief of staff for communication for international forces in Afghanistan, said that by the time the U.S. forces realized their mistake, the AC-130 gunship had stopped firing on the MSF facility.

"The investigation found that some of the U.S. individuals involved did not follow the rules of engagement," Shoffner said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott)

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