Kunduz Also Suffered A Massive Airstrike In 2009

NATO forces struck two oil tankers, killing about 100 people, in the same town where the Doctors Without Borders hospital was hit.

On Sept. 4, 2009, about 100 residents of Kunduz, Afghanistan, were killed, in a similar horror to Saturday's hour-long bombing on a Doctors Without Borders hospital.

A NATO airstrike hit two fuel trucks stationed in a riverbed. Germany's NATO force called for the strike because Taliban militants allegedly hijacked the tankers and planned to use them in a suicide bombing of the German Kunduz base. Yet civilians were also nearby, as they had gone to the riverbed to extract fuel from the tankers.

"What an error of judgment! More than 90 dead all because of a simple lorry that was, moreover, immobilized in a riverbed," said then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the wake of the attack.

Scores of civilians were killed or injured. "The bomb landed and the shrapnel injured me," a 10-year-old boy told The New York Times.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

Both NATO and the Afghan government launched investigations into the incident. German Col. Georg Klein, the man who gave the order, later wrote a report defending his decision. He claimed he "struggled with the decision to launch in order to rule out the possibility of collateral damage and civilian victims" and wanted to "be absolutely certain he wasn't falling into a trap set by the informant."

The strike landed Germany's military in hot water. Army chief Wolfgang Schneiderhan resigned in December of 2009 after it had been revealed that German forces withheld information pointing to civilians being present. In 2010, the Bundeswehr, Germany's armed forces, decided to compensate the family of each victim with $5,000.

The year 2009 was a time of heavy military involvement in Afghanistan -- 68,000 American troops were positioned across the country to battle the Taliban. In November, President Barack Obama launched a "surge," sending 30,000 additional troops to the country.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S.'s top commander in Afghanistan at the time, had placed a limit on airstrikes in an attempt to reduce civilian deaths. The Kunduz region was mainly guarded by NATO's German force, so it was unclear -- according to an inquiry into the bombing -- whether the airstrike went against the mandate.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Popular in the Community