US President Barack Obama has offered a ‘heartfelt’ apology to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Mr Obama phoned MSF president Joanne Liu to express his condolences for the attack that left at least 22 people dead, including 12 MSF staff.
“Until proven otherwise, we are working on the presumption of a war crime,” said Ms Liu.
MSF said the commission’s inquiry would gather facts and evidence and would determine whether to bring criminal charges for loss of life, which has left tens of thousands of Afghans without any access to health care.
“If we let this go, as if it was a non-event, we are basically giving a blank cheque to any countries who are at war,” Ms Liu said.
The White House said Mr Obama has contacted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to issue an apology for what is being called a mistake.
“In the United States when we make mistakes, we’re honest about it. We own up to it,” said Mr Earnest.
MSF released a statement saying that they did receive an apology but are still demanding an investigation from the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC).
MSF said the bombings could not have been an accident as the location of the hospital was well known and its GPS coordinates had been shared with all authorities.
“We had eight ICU [intensive care unit] beds with ventilators, this was high-tech medicine. This was not the little bush hospital. You could not miss it,” Ms Liu said.
The UN said it would wait for results from the US, NATO and Afghan investigations before deciding whether to support an independent probe. – Josh Chahal
Top image of the MSF hospital destroyed by US airstrikes from BBC’s TV coverage.