U.S. payments to Afghans in clinic attack called inadequate

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. military is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to wounded survivors and relatives of the 42 Afghans killed when an American AC-130 gunship attacked a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, which says the "sorry money" doesn't compensate for the loss of life.

See Full Article

The payments amount to $6,000 for each person killed, with the wounded receiving $3,000 each, representatives of the victims of the Oct. 3 bombing told The Associated Press. All 460 staff who were employed at the hospital at the time of the attack are expected to receive some amount of cash compensation.

U.S. Forces in Afghanistan have "expressed their condolences and offered a condolence payment to more than 140 families and individuals," the spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Col. Mike Lawhorn, said. He refused to give further details.

The trauma hospital was attacked during a firefight as U.S. advisers were helping Afghan forces retake Kunduz from the Taliban, who had captured the northern city on Sept. 28 and held it for three days.

Of the dead, 14 were hospital staff, 24 were patients, and 14 were caretakers, mostly relatives of patients. Another 27 staff were wounded. The hospital was destroyed and the charity, also known by its French acronym, MSF, ceased operations in Kunduz.

President Barack Obama apologized for the attack, which was one of the deadliest assaults on civilians in the 15-year war. The commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, called it a mistake. Internal military investigations have not been made public.

A joint U.S.-NATO assessment, obtained by The Associated Press, says the AC-130 gunship fired 211 shells at the compound for a half-hour before commanders realized the mistake and halted fire. Contrary to initial claims by Afghan officials, the report says there was no evidence the hospital had been overrun by Taliban gunmen or that there were hostilities there.

A parallel investigation by the U.S. military produced a 3,000-page report that officials say will be made public after it has been redacted. They have not given a firm date for its release.

Guilhem Molinie, MSF's representative in Afghanistan, said the information in the reports has not been shared with the charity. "We are still totally in the dark on what happened on that night in Kunduz," he said.

He said his group has discussed the "sorry money" with the U.S. military, calling the amount of the payments "ridiculous." He said many of the families had lost their sole breadwinner and that the funds would run out soon.

"These amounts are absolutely not compensation for loss of life," he said.

As condolence payments, these small amounts are seen as adequate to cover basic costs such as funerals, rather than as compensation, or blood money, for the deaths and injuries caused by the attack.

The United States has paid blood money up to $50,000 per death in some incidents, such as the multiple killing of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier in 2013. The amount paid is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Afghan government of former President Hamid Karzai paid compensation to the family of each person killed due to the conflict of 100,000 afghanis, or about $1,500 at current exchange rates.

The office of President Ashraf Ghani did not respond to a request for information. But Abdul Wase Basil, spokesman for the governor of Kunduz province, said the provincial government had paid compensation to 400 families who were affected by the violence of the siege of Kunduz city, which last about three weeks after the Sept. 28 Taliban onslaught. He said the wounded had been paid 20,000 afghanis ($290) each, and bereaved families 50,000 afghanis.

Zabiullah Khan, 25, lost both his hands and an eye in the bombing of the hospital, where he worked as a nurse. He was the sole supporter of his family of nine.

"I want to know why the American government bombed us, what did we do wrong," he said. "Now we have no money coming in at all. I want the Americans to provide advanced treatment for me abroad."

Anayatullah Hamdard lost his father, who was a doctor. He now represents the families in their dealings with the U.S. military and is hoping they can get legal advice on how to pursue more compensation. "We need someone with knowledge of war crimes to help us," said Hamdard, an agriculture professor at Kunduz University.

Their legal options are limited by the agreements that govern the U.S. military's presence in the country, which give the U.S. the exclusive right to prosecute its service members.

Molinie fears the lack of accountability, for U.S. or Afghan forces, following the Kunduz incident has encouraged a culture of impunity worldwide. Like other charities operating in war zones, MSF follows a policy of strict neutrality, treating anyone without asking their affiliation. But in recent weeks its facilities have been bombed in both Syria and Yemen.

The U.S. military has offered to rebuild the hospital in Kunduz. But Molinie said the priority was "making sure that the incredible chain of errors, mistakes, technical failures that were said to have happened in Kunduz will not happen again and could not happen again.

"Securing the basic assurance that we can run a hospital on the front line is much more important for us than rebuilding the hospital."

-----

Associated Press writer Humayoon Babur contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Mulroney breaks ground for Mulroney Institute in N.S.: 'It was a major endeavour'

    Canada News CTV News
    ANTIGONISH, N.S. -- Brian Mulroney returned once more to St. Francis Xavier University, his Nova Scotia alma mater, for the official ground-breaking of a $100 million project for which he raised the money and which in part bears his name. Source
  • Calgary man gets seven-year sentence for strangling wife, burying her body

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Allan Shyback told a harrowing tale in court. He was the longtime domestic abuse victim at the hands of his wife, Lisa Mitchell. And that’s why he strangled her to death in 2012 and then stuffed the dead woman’s body into a Rubbermaid container and cemented it into their basement wall. Source
  • Mueller investigators seek documents from the White House

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Special counsel Robert Mueller's team of investigators is seeking information from the White House related to Michael Flynn's stint as national security adviser and about the response to a meeting with a Russian lawyer that was attended by U.S. Source
  • Oklahoma cops shoot, Taser deaf man holding metal pipe [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man who was approaching them holding a metal pipe apparently didn’t hear witnesses yelling that the man was deaf, the department said Wednesday. Police Capt. Bo Mathews said 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez wasn’t obeying the officers’ commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night. Source
  • Gorilla-masked man sought after Stony Plain convenience store heist

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A man was not monkeying around when he entered a Stony Plain convenience store wearing a gorilla mask on Monday, robbing the store before fleeing with an undisclosed sum of cash. According to RCMP, the man wearing gloves and a gorilla mask walked into the 7-11 near Highway 16A Monday morning armed with a wrench and chisel. Source
  • Sexual predator who was 'gifted' young wives jailed

    World News Toronto Sun
    DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — A man convicted of sexually assaulting six girls from the same family, fathering two children with one of them, is scheduled to be sentenced in a Pennsylvania court. Fifty-two-year-old Lee Donald Kaplan will be sentenced in Bucks County court Wednesday on multiple counts of child rape, statutory sexual assault and other charges. Source
  • Calgary man jailed for life after robbery turns deadly

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    It was supposed to be a robbery and assault, but it turned into murder. Those were the facts admitted Wednesday by Said Raed Abdulbaki, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. Reading from a statement of agreed facts, Crown prosecutor Rajbir Dhillon told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Craig Jones that Abdulbaki was present when David Quach, 27, was slain. Source
  • Beep, beep! Kids drive luxury mini cars to operating room

    World News CBC News
    A San Diego children's hospital unveiled a collection of remote-controlled luxury mini cars that allow its young patients to "drive" themselves to the operating room. The cars at the Rady Children's Hospital are actually operated by a nurse or a doctor, and are part of a new program designed to make children more relaxed before their procedures. Source
  • Teen killer remains in adult jail in 'shocking' case of segregation

    Canada News CBC News
    A judge has urged Nova Scotia corrections officials to move an 18-year-old convicted murderer out of an adult jail where he's been held in virtual isolation for a year after he attacked guards at his youth facility. Source
  • Homes destroyed as Hurricane Maria slams Puerto Rico: ‘This is going to be a disaster’ [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Puerto Rico pummeled the island Wednesday as officials warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities. Source