Survivors of US airstrike on Afghan hospital demand justice

Médecins Sans Frontières / MGN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Survivors and the families of those killed in a U.S. airstrike on a hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan said Friday they were dismayed and angry that the U.S. military personnel responsible for mistakes that led to the bombing will not face criminal charges.

Zabihullah Neyazi, a nurse who lost his left arm and eye and a finger on his right hand in the attack, told The Associated Press that the incident was “not forgivable” and that he and other families “want justice.”

“Administrative punishment is not acceptable to us,” he said, and he added that he believed those responsible should face trial in Afghanistan. “The trial should be in Afghanistan, in our presence, in the presence of the victims’ families, so they would be satisfied,” he said.

Neyazi, 25, has been admitted to hospital several times and is now waiting for a visa to travel to India, where Doctors Without Borders (also known by its French acronym, MSF) has arranged for him to receive further medical treatment.

Khalid Ahmad, 24, was working as a pharmacist at the hospital when it was struck. He has shrapnel still embedded in his waist, and cannot move his right leg. MSF is also arranging for him to receive further care in India.

Those responsible “are criminals, and they must be jailed,” Ahmad said. He said he wanted the international community to ensure that he and other victims received justice.

The Pentagon is releasing a report Friday investigating the mistakes that led to the bombing of the hospital in the city of Kunduz, which killed 42 people. Doctors Without Borders has called the Oct. 3 attack “relentless and brutal.”

Officials said that the U.S. military personnel will receive administrative punishments but not criminal charges.

A two-star general was among about 16 American military personnel disciplined because of the attack, a senior U.S. official said. A number of those punished are U.S. special operations forces.

No one was sent to court-martial, officials said. However, in many cases a nonjudicial punishment, such as a letter of reprimand or suspension, can effectively end a military career. The officials were not authorized to discuss the case by name and requested anonymity.

In late March the newly appointed commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan apologized to the people of Kunduz for the attack. U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson traveled to the northern city to meet local leaders and relatives of those who, calling it a “horrible tragedy.”

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