Strikes on medical center in Kunduz went on after US informed: MSF

Doctors Without Borders says a deadly airstrike carried out by the US on the group’s hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz continued for over 30 minutes after Washington was informed.

According to a statement by the charity group, known by its French acronym MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), the Saturday attack left nine of its staff dead and dozens more seriously injured.

However, a doctor with the MSF, who asked to remain anonymous, has said that at least 20 staff members were killed, according to a report by the UK daily the Guardian.

Eight nurses, three doctors, six security guards, two cleaners and a pharmacist were among the dead listed by a colleague, the doctor said.

The MSF said in the statement, “At 2:10 a.m. (2040 GMT) local time… the MSF trauma center in Kunduz was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.”

The statement added that the aerial assault continued for more than half an hour after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

“All parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS coordinates) of the MSF facilities,” the statement added.

The remarks come as Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry in a statement said a group of armed “terrorists” were using the hospital building as a position “to target Afghan forces and civilians.”

Meanwhile, NATO said US forces might have conducted the airstrike, without commenting on the MSF’s comments.

“US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15 a.m. (local time)… against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation,” a NATO statement said.

A US drone lands at Afghanistan’s Jalalabad Airport. (AFP)

 

The MSF trauma center in Kunduz has been working “beyond capacity” over the past several days of clashes in the city, where the Taliban militants overran late last month. The facility is the only one in the northeastern region of Afghanistan capable of taking care of major injuries.

According to the MSF, over 100 patients and their caregivers, as well as more than 80 international and local MSF staff were in the hospital when the airstrike took place.

Deeply shocked

Following the airstrike, MSF director of operations Bart Janssens said that they “are deeply shocked by the attack” that killed their staff and inflicted heavy toll on healthcare in Kunduz.

“We urge all parties to respect the safety of health facilities and staff.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross also denounced the assault as “an appalling tragedy,” adding that such attacks on health workers and facilities weaken “the capacity of humanitarian organizations to assist the Afghan people at a time when they most urgently need it.”

Amnesty International also slammed the attack and called for an urgent and impartial investigation into the incident.

Kunduz has been witnessing heavy clashes between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants. At least 60 people have reportedly been killed and 400 injured over the past few days of fighting.

Afghan officials said Thursday that they have managed to take back control of Kunduz from the Taliban, but local sources say the city is not fully liberated.

By Press TV