MSF accuses US for war crime after Afghan hospital air raid

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) claims that US air strike killing 22 people in Kunduz hospital is possibly "war crime"

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

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 (MSF), an international non-governmental organization for humanitarian aid, has said that the US air attack that killed 22 people in hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz was a war crime.

UN Human Rights Chief Officer Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein also described the US-led forces' air strike targeting the hospital as 'inexcusable' and possibly ‘war crime.’

"The seriousness of the incident is underlined by the fact that, if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime," Hussein said.

The MSF has also criticized Afghan government statements legitimizing the US air strike and described it as "disgusting".

The MSF declared in a statement on its website, "These statements imply that Afghan and the US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital - with more than 180 staff and patients inside - because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.”

"This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as collateral damage” MSF added.

US President Barack Obama expressed his "deepest condolences" for those who fell victim to the attacks and stated that the Pentagon has undergone a full investigation concerning the matter.

US military said it operated an air strike "in the vicinity" of the hospital, as it aimed at targeting the Taliban militant groups.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter also extended his condolences while acknowledging that US forces supporting their Afghan counterparts "were operating nearby."

Afghan Interior Ministry reported that a group of militants associated with Taliban were firing on Afghan forces at the time of the attack after they had taken position within the hospital compound, using the building "as a human shield."

“Afghan security forces launched a clearing operation on hospital last night where tens of militants had positioned,” said ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

However, MSF members have denied any statements claiming that the Taliban fighters were firing from its hospital at Afghan forces.

"The gates of the hospital compound were closed all night so no one that is not staff, a patient or a caretaker was inside the hospital when the bombing happened," MSF said on Sunday.

Following the air strike, patients were burned alive in the crowded hospital, and among the dead were three children who were being treated, according to witnesses.

An official of the medical aid group said that MSF staff had telephoned military officials at NATO in both Kabul and Washington immediately following the air raids, but the bombs continued to hit for almost an hour.

Afghan forces regained control in vast majority of Kunduz

Afghan government forces seized control in large part of Kunduz on Monday, police and local people said, and some shops opened in the centre of Kunduz since Taliban militants captured it according to Reuters.

Reuters reported that for the first time following a week of unrest, there hasn't been any gun battles and residents could go out for shopping.

"The city centre is back to normal but the city smells so bad due to dead bodies still lying on the pavements and in the sewage. The local government must do something"  said a local residence.


TRTWorld and agencies