19 killed at hospital: Afghanistan Hospital

Published: October 4, 2015

19 killed at hospital: Afghanistan Hospital, Aerial bombardments blew apart a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the battleground Afghan city of Kunduz about the time of a U.S. airstrike early Saturday, killing at least 19 people, officials said.

The blasts left part of the hospital in flames and rubble, killing 12 staffers and seven patients — including three children — and injuring 37 other people, the charity said.

As the United States said it was investigating what struck the hospital during the night, the charity expressed shock and demanded answers, stressing that all combatants had been told long ago where the hospital was.

“(The bombing) constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” Doctors Without Borders, known internationally as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, said.

“There are many patients and staff who remain unaccounted for. The numbers may grow as a clearer picture develops of the aftermath of this horrific bombing,” MSF said, adding all the dead and injured were Afghans.

The bombardments continued even after U.S. and Afghan military officials were notified the hospital was being attacked, the charity said.

The circumstances weren’t immediately clear, but the U.S. military was conducting an airstrike in Kunduz at the time the hospital was hit, U.S. Army Col. Brian Tibus said.

The military is investigating whether a U.S. AC-130 gunship — which was in the area firing on Taliban positions to defend U.S. special operations troops there — is responsible, a U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity.

The White House released a statement from President Barack Obama offering condolences to the charity from the American people.

“The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy,” the President said. “I … expect a full accounting of the facts and circumstances.”

The top U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan said he spoke to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about the deadly airstrike, the U.S. military said.

“While we work to thoroughly examine the incident and determine what happened, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected. We continue to advise and assist our Afghan partners as they clear the city of Kunduz and surrounding areas of insurgents. As always, we will take all reasonable steps to protect civilians from harm,” said Gen. John F. Campbell.

The incident occurred on roughly the sixth day of fighting between Afghan government forces — supported by U.S. air power and military advisers — and the Taliban, which invaded the city early this week.

According to MSF, the compound is gated and no staff members saw any fighters there or nearby.

“If there was a major military operation going on there, our staff would have noticed. And that wasn’t the case when the strikes occurred,” Christopher Stokes, the charity’s general director, told CNN.

One nurse said in an article on the MSF website that he was sleeping in a safe room when he was awakened by a large explosion. The bombing lasted about an hour, Lajos Zoltan Jecs said.

As he went to help the wounded, he and others tried to save a doctor. He died on an office table, Jecs said. The nurse saw six patients who had burned to death in their beds. Another patient was dead on an operating table.

“I have no words to express this. It is unspeakable,” he said.

Photos of damage done by bombing of #MSF #Kunduz hospital + staff treating patients in parts still standing ©MSF pic.twitter.com/hKOBIyLttI

— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) October 3, 2015

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