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The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.

The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. (Médecins Sans Frontières)

WASHINGTON — U.S. forces investigating the deadly airstrikes at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz rammed the gate in an Afghan vehicle last week, further damaging the facility, the Pentagon said Monday.

The destruction of the gate has further incensed Doctors Without Borders after the hospital was bombed by a U.S. AC-130 gunship in the early hours of Oct. 3, killing at least 22 people and wounding many more. The main building was destroyed and the hospital has been shut down.

The bombing happened as Afghan forces battled Taliban insurgents who had stormed Kunduz on Sept. 28 and briefly held the city of 300,000, the first provincial capital they have overrun since being forced from power in 2001.

Government troops have largely retaken the city. On Thursday, President Barack Obama said he would keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through most of next year and 5,500 when he leaves office in 2017.

Last week, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, released a statement following the gate break-in, calling it an unannounced and forced entry that “potentially destroyed evidence.” MSF also renewed its calls for an independent investigation of the Oct. 3 attack.

The U.S.-Afghan investigation team involved in the Oct. 15 gate incident were riding in a tracked vehicle driven by Afghan forces, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. The U.S.-Afghan team were part of the Pentagon’s initial assessment of casualties and damage that will support a report expected this week. The report could be the impetus for any restitution that the United States could make to MSF and families.

During an earlier incident at the hospital, the investigation team had come under fire and that led to their actions at the gate on Oct. 15.

“They had broken through that gate in the interest of safety, and in the belief that (MSF) personnel were not on site,” Davis said.

In a statement released after the Oct. 15 incident, Doctors Without Borders said the violent intrusion “caused stress and fear for the MSF team that had arrived earlier in the day to visit the hospital.”

The U.S.-Afghan team was there to determine whether the destroyed hospital could be rebuilt and forced entry into the site without contacting MSF, Davis said

“We are working with (MSF) to repair the damage to the gate,” he said. “They did it. They shouldn’t have. They are going to make it right.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

copp.tara@stripes.com Twitter: @TaraCopp


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