MSF requests independent inquiry on Kunduz attack

Doctors Without Borders requests independent inquiry on US air strike that killed 22 people in Kunduz, Afghanistan, says it will not back down

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Fire is seen inside a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital building after an air strike in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan in this October 3, 2015 MSF handout photo.

Updated Oct 18, 2015

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Wednesday requested an independent inquiry into last week’s air strike on the charity's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

US Executive Director of MSF, Jason Cone says the medical charity will not back down from their request for an independent investigation, and that the changing accounts on the air strike is unacceptable.


MSF says only after an independent international commission investigation will it consider not filing criminal charges for the deaths and the damage made to the hospital.

MSF International President, Joanne Liu in a news briefing said “If we let this go, as if was a non-event, we are basically giving a blank cheque to any countries who are at war."

"If we don't safeguard that medical space for us to do our activities, then it is impossible to work in other contexts like Syria, South Sudan, like Yemen," she added.

The US air strike on the hospital killed 22 people on October 3.

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

“Our patients burned in their beds, MSF doctors, nurses and other 12 staff were killed as they worked. Our colleagues had to operate on each other," Liu said.

General John Campbell, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said in his testimony on Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the US air strike on the hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz was a mistake.

"To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fire was a US decision made within the US chain of command," Campbell said. "A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility," he said.

Contrary to previous statements by the US military that its own troops were under fire and had called in the strike, the US Army General John Campbell stressed that the US forces were not under fire. Instead, air support from the US forces was requested by Afghan forces when they started taking fire from Taliban, Campbell stated.

MSF denounced Campbell’s announcement as an act to shift blame to the Afghans. Jason Cone said "Campbell’s shifting story underlined the need for an independent inquiry."

“They are now back to talking about a ‘mistake’. A mistake that lasted for more than an hour, despite the fact that the location of the hospital was well known to them and that they were informed during the air strike that it was a hospital being hit. All this confusion just underlines once again the crucial need for an independent investigation into how a major hospital, full of patients and MSF staff, could be repeatedly bombed,” he said.

TRTWorld and agencies