Afghan hospital bombing killed 19 people – Doctors Without Borders

Published: Sunday 4th October 2015 by The News Editor

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Confusion reigned in the wake of the bombing of a hospital compound in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more.

It remains unclear exactly who bombed the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders and the international medical charity has demanded an investigation into the incident.

Doctors Without Borders said that “all indications” pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing and called for an independent investigation.

US defence secretary Ash Carter said an inquiry was under way into whether the carnage at the clinic was caused by an airstrike from an American fighter jet.

And Afghan officials said helicopter gunships had returned fire from Taliban fighters hiding in the compound.

Afghan forces backed by US airstrikes have been fighting the Taliban street-by-street in Kunduz since Thursday to dislodge insurgents who seized the strategic city three days earlier in their biggest foray into a major urban area since the US-led invasion of 2001.

The insurgents have had the city encircled for months, and overran it in a surprise assault that embarrassed the US-backed Afghan government and called into question the competence of the US-funded Afghan armed forces.

Army Colonel Brian Tribus, a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, said a US airstrike on Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility” and that the incident was under investigation.

He said it was the 12th US airstrike “in the Kunduz vicinity” since Tuesday.

Doctors Without Borders, also known by the French acronym MSF, said its trauma centre “was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged”.

At the time, the hospital had 105 patients and those caring for them, and more than 80 international and Afghan staff, it said.

The medical group did not say whether insurgents were present inside the compound as the Afghan ministry of defence claimed, and it was not immediately clear whether the staffers were killed by the Taliban or Afghan or US forces.

Doctors Without Borders said another 30 people were still missing after the incident.

The dead included 12 staffers and seven patients from the intensive care unit, among them three children, it said. A total of 37 people were injured, including 19 staff members, and 18 patients and caretakers. Five of the injured staff members were in critical condition.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani expressed his sorrow and said he and the commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, had “agreed to launch a joint and thorough investigation”.

President Barack Obama said he expected a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the bombing, and would wait for the results before making a judgment.

He said the US would continue working with Afghanistan’s government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.

Published: Sunday 4th October 2015 by The News Editor

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