A United States air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday killed 16 people, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said, claiming the facility was repeatedly bombarded for more than 30 minutes after Washington was informed.
US forces carried out a nearby strike early Saturday “against individuals threatening the force”, Army spokesman Col. Brian Tribus said. “This incident is under investigation”. More than 80 MSF global and national staff were present. The military is investigating.
The capture of Kunduz on Monday marked the insurgents’ biggest victory since the USA invasion 14 years ago that toppled the Taliban government.
As fighting spreads in neighbouring Badakhshan, Takhar and Baghlan provinces, concerns are mounting that the seizure of Kunduz was merely the opening gambit in a new, bolder Taliban strategy to tighten the insurgency’s grip across northern Afghanistan.
The aid group said it warned US and Afghan authorities of the hospital’s location ahead of time.
“We could not seize the airport but captured a few of its surroundings”.
The USAF’s only previous hull loss with the type occurred in May 2013, when one of its aircraft overran the landing strip at Forward Operating Base Shank, around 50 miles south of the Afghan capital, Kabul (below).
“Such attacks against health workers and facilities undermine the capacity of humanitarian organizations to assist the Afghan people at a time when they most urgently need it”, said Jean-Nicolas Marti, Head of the ICRC delegation in Afghanistan. The embassy praised the group’s work as “heroic”. The battle encroached on the hospital’s gate.
From early on, the Taliban had respected the hospital’s request not to bring weapons inside, according to staff members, and the hospital had been a refuge in the shattered city of Kunduz.
Though ISAF forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan but 9,800 American troops are still working in Afghanistan for the Resolute Support mission.
In a worrying sign for government forces struggling to contain a growing militant threat, the Taliban made territorial gains elsewhere in the country, although on a smaller scale than the brief seizure of Kunduz.
Sediqqi said Afghan forces were still sweeping the city for militants, conducting “meter to meter, house to house operations” that would continue until “all those bad elements” had been eliminated.
Shereen said he was forced to abandon a strategically important hill fort overlooking the city’s main roads after running out of ammunition and food, three days after the majority of soldiers and police had retreated from the city centre to regroup close to the airport.
“The coalition air forces will put something called a no-fly area on that Global Positioning System coordinate, so you have a pinpoint dot on a map, where you say something is there … don’t hit it”, Hertling said.
“We are extending every available resource to comfort and care for the family and friends of our fallen heroes”, said 7 Bomb Wing Commander COL Michael Bob Starr in a press release. “Did the pilot have this no-fly area?”