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US to make 'condolence' payments to families of Afghan hospital airstrike victims

The Pentagon has said the US is to make compensation payments to the families of those killed and injured in an airstrike on an MSF hospital in northern Afghanistan. Twenty-two people died in the attack.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement on Saturday the US Department of Defense believed it was "important to address the consequences of the tragic incident." Twelve staff and 10 patients were killed in the attack which hit the medical center run by medical charity Doctors without Borders or Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF).

"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, adding that the US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) would determine "appropriate payments" through discussions with those affected.

The spokesman also said USFOR-A had authority to pay for repairs to the hospital.

'Thorough investigation'

The trauma center run by MSF in the northern Syrian city of Kunduz was forced to close last Saturday after it was hit in a US airstrike.

A futher 33 people were reported still missing after the strike. It came just days after the Taliban overran Kunduz, with many residents wounded after pitched street battles.

The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, said

the hospital was "mistakenly" targeted

and promised a "thorough investigation."

The president of MSF International, Joanne Liu, said the strike was deliberate, however. Three separate probes by the US military, NATO and Afghan officials are under way.

MSF, which condemned the attack as a war crime, has

called for an independent probe

by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, however, saying the bombing raid contravened the Geneva Conventions.

ksb/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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