Ghani grieved over Kunduz hospital raid, US orders probe
KABUL/WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): President Ashraf Ghani, the United Nations and others on Saturday expressed their grief over the US-led airstrikes on a hospital in northern Kunduz that killed at least 19 people, including 12 staff of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), as the Pentagon ordered an investigation into the deadly raid.
Campbell "provided explanations about the incident and offered condolences to those affected. Both the President and Gen. Campbell agreed to launch a joint and thorough investigation," the statement said.
The president said NATO forces were obliged to pay special attention to people’s lives and security and exercise utmost care during their operations, insisting that Afghan and foreign troops should not target civilian homes during their operations. The president directed the departments concerned to thoroughly investigate the incident.
US defence chief Ash Carter called the incident "tragic" and acknowledged that US forces were operating nearby in support of the Afghan army.
"While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected. A full investigation into the tragic incident is underway in coordination with the Afghan government."
“At this difficult moment, we will continue to work with our Afghan partners to try and end the ongoing violence in and around Kunduz,” Ashton Carter said.
Carter said overnight he learned of a tragic incident involving a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz, that came under fire. The area has been the scene of intense fighting the last few days, he added. US forces in support of Afghan Security Forces were operating nearby, as were Taliban fighters, said the Defense Secretary.
In a separate statement the US-led coalition also acknowledged launching the air strike "against individuals threatening the force". "The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation."
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health expressed deep grief over the airstrikes on the hospital and said it valued services of the Doctors without Borders organistaion in Afghanistan.
The incident was strongly condemned by the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, who said patients, doctors and health centres should not be attacked, urging the warring parties not to use health facilities as military bases.
The US embassy in Kabul also expressed its concern over the incident and extended sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims.
Doctors Without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said 12 of its staff members and at least seven patients, including three children, were killed; 37 people were injured including 19 staff members.
Stating that this attack constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law, MSF in a statement said all indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international Coalition forces.
It demanded a full and transparent account from the Coalition regarding its aerial bombing activities over Kunduz on Saturday morning. MSF also called for an independent investigation of the attack to ensure maximum transparency and accountability.
“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law,” said Meinie Nicolai, MSF President. “We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage,” he said.
From 2:08 AM until 3:15 local time Saturday, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by a series of aerial bombing raids at approximately 15-minute intervals. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched, MSF said.
“The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle round,” said Heman Nagarathnam, MSF Head of Programs in northern Afghanistan.
“There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again. When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames. Those people that could had moved quickly to the building’s two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds,” Nagarathnam said.
The bombing took place despite the fact that MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma hospital to Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials as recently as Tuesday, September 29, to avoid that the hospital be hit.
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