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Pentagon to make 'condolence payments' to families of victims in Kunduz attack

The Pentagon said Saturday it will issue payments to the families of the civilians killed and injured during last week's deadly U.S. strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

"The Department of Defense believes it is important to address the consequences of the tragic incident," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. "One step the department can take is to make condolence payments to civilian noncombatants injured and the families of civilian noncombatants killed as a result of U.S. military operations."

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The U.S. government has regularly issued payments to Afghans for property damage, injuries and deaths throughout its military presence in the embattled country. The Oct. 3 attack on the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian aid group, killed 22 people and wounded 37 more.

Speaking Tuesday during congressional testimony, Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, called the airstrike a mistake. It was carried out by an AC-130 gunship on behalf of Afghan forces under attack by the Taliban.

President Obama apologized Wednesday to Doctors Without Borders for the attack.

It remains unclear how the mistake happened. Doctors Without Borders, operating the only trauma center of its kind in northeastern Afghanistan, has repeatedly said that it had given GPS coordinates to the U.S. military before and during the attack.

The Pentagon, NATO and the Afghan government are conducting separate investigations into one of the worst U.S. attacks to produce civilian casualties since the war began 14 years ago. 

The Pentagon said it would pay to repair the hospital and work with families and civilians to determine appropriate payments.

"If necessary and appropriate, the administration will seek additional authority from the Congress," Cook said.

Follow @wjhenn for military and defense info.

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