October 24, 2015 / 3:40 PM / 4 years ago

NATO report into Kunduz hospital air strike delayed

An Afghan man walks in front of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

(Reuters) - A preliminary NATO report into a U.S. air strike on a hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Oct. 3, originally expected to be released within a few days, has been delayed while investigations continue, officials said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a briefing in Washington on Friday that the report into civilian casualties at the hospital from the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General John Campbell, was not yet complete.

“We want to get this done, and I want him to get it done, but we wanted to get it done absolutely right,” he said.

The hospital operated by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was hit by a U.S. air strike while Afghan government forces battled to regain control of Kunduz from Taliban insurgents who had seized the city.

MSF, which has called for an independent international investigation, on Saturday revised the death toll in the incident, one of the worst of its kind in the 14 year-long conflict in Afghanistan.

It said 13 MSF staff members were confirmed dead and one other presumed dead, while 10 patients were confirmed dead and another two presumed dead. It said efforts were being made to establish the identities of seven other bodies found in the ruins of the hospital and which had now been buried.

The United States says the hospital was hit by mistake but has accepted responsibility and has launched a wider investigation headed by a U.S. general and two brigadier generals, which is expected later.

The NATO examination of civilian casualties is being conducted independently of the U.S. national investigation.

“Both inquiries continue to look at a series of potential human errors, failures of process and technical malfunctions that may have contributed to the mistaken strike on the hospital,” Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, spokesman for the Resolute Support Mission, said.

Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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