Kunduz (Afghanistan) (AFP) - Survivors of a US air strike on a hospital in Afghanistan have called for those responsible to go on trial and dismissed an American military investigation that said the bombardment did not amount to a war crime.
The attack on the hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the city of Kunduz last October left 42 people dead and sparked global outrage, forcing President Barack Obama to make a rare apology.
The Pentagon on Friday published a report of its investigation into the air strike saying the troops involved in the raid would not face war crimes charges.
"This report is an absolute insult to the victims of MSF hospital in Kunduz," Esmatullah Esmat, who works as a doctor for the charity, told AFP.
"We do not feel safe after this report, if we go to work, we fear the hospital might come under attack another time," Esmat said.
"We are very upset and demoralised... We are not satisfied, and we will not go back to work as long as justice is not ensured to our people," he added.
The bombing last October came as US special forces were deployed to Kunduz alongside Afghan forces in order to recapture the northern city from the Taliban, who had overrun it in one of their dramatic successes of the war.
Despite no fire coming from the hospital, an AC-130 gunship turned its enormous firepower on the target, pummelling it repeatedly over an extended period.
Doctors Without Borders branded the strike a war crime, saying the raid left patients burning in their beds with some victims decapitated and others requiring amputations.
Witnesses told MSF that the main central block of the security facility housing the intensive care unit was targeted precisely, with nearby buildings unscathed, and many patients burned to death in their beds.
- Calls for a trial -
"They should be publicly put on trial," Hamdullah, a 27-year-old who lost his uncle in the attack and worked in the laundry at the hospital, told AFP.
"This was a deliberate bombardment by the American forces, and we are not satisfied that they have said this was not a war crime. This is unacceptable for us," Hamdullah, who goes by one name, said.
General Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, said an investigation had found those involved made a series of mistakes and hit the clinic in error, while arguing that the troops were under battle stress.
He said that since the hospital was not deliberately targeted, the bombardment did not amount to a war crime. The 16 personnel found to have failed in their duties would face suspensions or reprimands rather than a court martial.
"It's a joke that the US said the incident was not a war crime," Zahidullah, 24, who worked as a cleaner at the hospital and lost a cousin in the strike, told AFP.
"What we saw that night is difficult for us to express in words," he said, calling for compensation for victims and their families as well as adequate medical care.
The hospital -- the only health facility in the province -- was forced to close after the attack.
The Afghan government welcomed the publication of the report.
"The Afghan government is satisfied that the investigation was done carefully and comprehensively, and believes measures were taken to ensure accountability," it said in a statement, adding that it "supports measures for preventing such attacks".