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Afghans requested deadly US air strike, says commander

Published 05/10/2015

Afghan security forces take a wounded civilian man to hospital in Kunduz (AP)
Afghan security forces take a wounded civilian man to hospital in Kunduz (AP)

The US air strike that killed 22 people at a medical clinic in the city of Kunduz over the weekend was requested by Afghan forces, the top commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan said.

General John F Campbell, speaking at the Pentagon, said he was correcting an initial US statement that said the air strike was meant to defend US forces under fire.

In the incident early on Saturday, Gen Campbell said Afghan forces advised US special operations forces on the ground that they needed US air support, and the air strike ensued.

He said several civilians were "accidentally struck".

He declined to provide more details, saying a military investigation is ongoing.

He said he learned from the investigator that it was the Afghans, not the Americans, who requested the air strike.

"We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US forces," Gen Campbell said.

"An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports which indicated that US forces were threatened and that the air strike was called on their behalf."

His revised account does not clarify whether the clinic was targeted in error or whether other mistakes may have been made by US forces.

"If errors were committed we will acknowledge them," Gen Campbell said.

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