- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan traveled to Kunduz in northern Afghanistan Tuesday to apologize to the people there for the deadly attack on a charity hospital in the city last year that killed 42 people and deprived thousands of medical care.

The now-closed hospital, run by Medecins Sans Frontieres — also known as Doctors Without Borders — was attacked by an Air Force AC-130 gunship on Oct. 3.

Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. met with family members of victims and staff of the hospital in Kunduz on Tuesday to express his condolences.

“As commander, I wanted to come to Kunduz personally and stand before the families and the people of Kunduz to deeply apologize for the events which destroyed the hospital and caused the deaths of staff, patients and family members,” said Gen. Nicholson, who took charge of the forces in Afghanistan this month, The New York Times reported. “I grieve with you for your loss and suffering, and humbly and respectfully ask for your forgiveness.”

Local officials in Kunduz said they accepted the general’s apology, but it is unlikely to change the position of MSF, which has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent probe of the incident led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.

Defense officials last week said more than a dozen U.S. military personnel had been punished for the bombing, but none face criminal charges.

Army Gen. John Campbell, the previous command in Afghanistan, has called the incident a “tragic but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error.”

In a November report, the Pentagon claimed the crew of the AC-130 gunship had been directed to attack a Taliban command center in a building several hundred meters away from the hospital.

However, the crew mistakenly struck the hospital after their targeting sensors experienced a glitch, the Pentagon said.

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