Civilian deaths as U.S. bombs hospital in Afghanistan

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kunduz province in Afghanistan.
Image: User:TUBS.
The location of the hospital in Kunduz.
Image: © OpenStreetMap contributors.

Twenty two civilians, including three children, died, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported, on Saturday after a United States airstrike hit a hospital in the city of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Amongst the fatalities were twelve charity staff working for MSF. MSF said there were about two hundred people in the building.

Cquote1.svg Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body. Cquote2.svg

—Médecins Sans Frontières

Cquote1.svg The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. Cquote2.svg

—United States military

A statement was issued on the MSF website criticising the attack and stating "Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body." The US military released a statement saying they had struck "against individuals threatening the force" and "The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility." The US Government announced there would be three separate investigations, carried out by the Afghan forces, the US military, and NATO. The Afghan interior ministry claimed there had been a Taliban presence in the hospital although this was denied by the insurgent organization.

The attack was also condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross, whilst the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, described the strike as "inexcusable" and called for a full investigation.

On September 28, the Taliban launched an assault on Kunduz. The US has been carrying out air strikes to support Afghan government forces attempting to recover the city. MSF said it had often provided the Afghan and US governments with details of the location of the hospital, particularly on September 29. The Taliban had unsuccessfully tried to capture Kunduz in April this year, but they were pushed back by government forces.


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