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Leaked report says media led military to re-examine deadly attack

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
  • Report on Kunduz incident reveals military was certain no civilians were in area
  • Military begins investigation after "International Media" reported that civilians were killed in attack
  • Final military report: "56 killed None (None) insurgents"

(CNN) -- A report among the 90,000 secret U.S. military documents published by a whistle-blower website over the weekend shows the confusion that led to what turned into a controversial attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

One leaked document shows how NATO troops were very mistaken in a deadly air attack on two stolen fuel tankers last year. The NATO troops knew that two tankers had been stolen by the Taliban and had found that they were stuck in a river that the Taliban drivers were trying to cross.

The commanders overseeing the mission believed 70 insurgents had surrounded the trapped tankers. The report says, "After ensuring that no civilians were in the vicinity" the commander ordered both trucks bombed and destroyed.

After the attack a "BDA (bomb damage assessment) conducted by F-15/Rover was that 56x INS KIA (Confirmed)." Meaning the F-15 pilot saw 56 dead Taliban insurgents.

A unit was sent to the scene on the ground. Even then, the military report of the incident mentioned no civilian casualties.

Read the report

But later an update is added to the report: "At 0900 hrs International Media reported that US airstrike had killed 60 civilians in Kunduz. The media are reporting that Taliban did steal the trucks and had invited civilians in the area to take fuel."

After more investigations the report ends "56 killed None (None) Insurgents." The reversal played out in the press, as the then newly appointed NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, ordered an inquiry into what happened and how civilians were killed.