Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

16 U.S. Service Members Disciplined In Mistaken Airstrikes On Afghan Hospital

Sixteen U.S. service members have been disciplined after the Pentagon reviewed the U.S. airstrikes that killed 42 people at a civilian hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last fall.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports that none of the military personnel face criminal charges.

"The report cites a number of mistakes — human and technical — that led to what the U.S. says was an unintentional attack on a hospital run by the group Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan," Tom says, adding that the "top American officer in charge of the region, Gen. Joe Votel, will discuss the findings at the Pentagon on Friday."


As NPR reported, the Oct. 3, 2015, attack killed 42 people, including employees with Medecins Sans Frontieres (also known as Doctors Without Borders) and patients. The organization called the strikes a "war crime" and is demanding an international investigation.

U.S. officials have said a mistake with coordinates led the crew of the AC-130 gunship to hit the wrong target. As NPR's Philip Reeves reported, the U.S. gave victims of the attack $3,000 in what was called "condolence money."

Zabihullah Niazi, a worker at the hospital who lost an eye and an arm in the bombing, was the recipient of one of these payments — and he called it "insulting." Philip explained:

"Niazi, 25, was a nurse at a Kunduz trauma center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres. In late September, the Taliban invaded the city. It took several days for the Afghan army, supported by U.S. air power and special forces, to drive them out. "During that battle, in the early hours of Oct. 3, Niazi was inside the hospital, resting after a shift, when one U.S. missile after another pummeled the building — incinerating some patients in their beds. "The Pentagon later described this prolonged aerial assault as a 'tragic, avoidable accident,' caused by human error, faulty computers and a communications breakdown."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit