President Obama Apologizes for Afghan Hospital Bombing

He called the president of Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday to send his condolences.

Victims of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz receive treatment at the Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Hospital in Balkh, Afghanistan, on Sunday.
Anadolu Agency AFP/Getty
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Rebecca Nelson
Oct. 7, 2015, 1:56 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama apo­lo­gized Wed­nes­day to Doc­tors Without Bor­ders for the bomb­ing that “mis­takenly struck” an Afghan hos­pit­al over the week­end.

Press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est told re­port­ers Wed­nes­day that Obama called Joanne Liu, the head of the med­ic­al-aid or­gan­iz­a­tion, to send his con­dol­ences and apo­lo­gize for what the Amer­ic­an com­mand­er in Afgh­anistan, Gen. John F. Camp­bell, de­scribed Tues­day as a mis­take.

Earn­est said that Obama “be­lieved it was ap­pro­pri­ate” to “own up to our mis­takes … so that we can learn from this in­cid­ent.”

But just one day be­fore, Earn­est as­sured re­port­ers that any apo­logy would be con­tin­gent upon the com­ple­tion of in­vest­ig­a­tions by the De­fense De­part­ment and NATO, as well as the U.S. and Afgh­anistan in­vest­ig­a­tions.

“There’s no deny­ing that what has tran­spired here is a pro­found tragedy for many of the reas­ons that you have cited,” he told re­port­ers Tues­day. “But be­fore I go fur­ther than that, I do want these in­vest­ig­at­ors to col­lect all the avail­able in­form­a­tion to try to learn ex­actly what happened and provide the full ac­count­ing that the pres­id­ent has asked for.

Obama also called Afghan Pres­id­ent Ashraf Gh­ani to re­it­er­ate the U.S. com­mit­ment to a strong re­la­tion­ship with the Afghan gov­ern­ment, Earn­est said.

On Tues­day, Camp­bell told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee that the bomb­ing was a mis­take. “We would nev­er in­ten­tion­ally tar­get a pro­tec­ted med­ic­al fa­cil­ity.”

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