MSF says it a U.S. airstrike was to blame for the bombing that killed 22 people, which Afghan officials now claim was in retaliation for fire from Taliban fighters hiding in the hospital. The airstrike was directed at insurgents who were firing on US soldiers assisting Afghan forces, the Pentagon said in an emailed statement.
In a statement on Monday, MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said Campbell’s comments amounted to trying to pass responsibility for the strike to the Afghan government.
The USA military said Sunday that it carried out an airstrike “in the vicinity” of the Doctors Without Borders hospital at that time to protect American special-operations forces on the ground who came under enemy fire.
He restated that the 9,800 USA troops serving as trainers Afghanistan are not directly fighting the Taliban.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that at least 39 civilians – including eight children – had been killed in Russian air strikes in Syria since Wednesday, Reuters reported. The U.S. military admitted that a strike targeting the Taliban – who had taken control of the city of Kunduz earlier in the week – may have caused “collateral damage”.
The charity condemned the “abhorrent” bombings, demanding answers from US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan.
They have since been driven to the outskirts of the provincial capital by Afghan forces, but pockets remain.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conceded U.S. forces may have been behind the strike but has not so far commented on the specific claims of MSF, which has long treated the war-wounded from all sides of the conflict.
“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, a transparent investigation must be conducted by an independent worldwide body”, MSF added.
The officials said the AC-130 gunship responded and fired on the area, but U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said it’s not certain yet whether that was what destroyed the hospital. The charity announced Sunday that three injured hospital patients had died, bringing the total to 10 in addition to 12 dead hospital staffers.
MSF said a few 105 patients and their caregivers, as well as more than 80 global and local MSF staff, were in the hospital at the time of the bombing.
“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from a few Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz”, Stokes said in the statement. “The USA hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff”.
Campbell said he expected a preliminary report on the incident “very shortly, in the next couple of days”. Corpses lay in the streets and people were too afraid to leave their homes, said one resident, Gulboddin.
Using the organization’s French acronym, Stokes said, “MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent global body”.