Another 37 others were injured in the strike: 19 staff members, including five in critical condition, and 18 patients and caretakers, according to Jason Cone, the executive director for Doctors Without Borders in the U.S. The organization didn’t comment on the identities of the victims, but said all worldwide staffers were alive and accounted for. Campbell said he wanted to correct initial reports suggesting U.S forces were under threat and that the strike was carried out on their behalf. Instead, Gen Campbell said, the aerial assault, conducted by a US AC-130 gunship, was requested by the Afghans.
Shortly after the Pentagon remarks, the medical agency called for an independent investigation into the incident despite pledges from the White House and the Pentagon to conduct transparent investigations. It termed the hospital as “collateral damage”.
The hospital was “100 per cent used by Taliban”, Hamidullah Danishi, acting governor of Kunduz, told the Washington Post, adding that their firing was “tolerated for a few time”.
“There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds”. “This amounts to an admission of a war crime”, Stokes alleged.
US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences and said he would await the conclusions of an inquiry before making a definitive judgement.
The United Nations called the strikes “inexcusable and possibly even criminal” with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon promising a thorough investigation.
The medical group did not say whether insurgents were present inside the compound as the Afghan Ministry of Defence claimed, and it was not immediately clear whether the staffers were killed by the Taleban or Afghan or U.S. forces. “It is 12 MSF staff members and 10 patients, including three children, who were killed in the attack”. The airstrike also destroyed the intensive care unit of the health facility.
The attack occurred during an offensive by U.S. and Afghan forces to retake Kunduz from Taliban fighters.
“The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle round”, said Heman Nagarathnam, MSF head of programs in northern Afghanistan, in a statement.
Residents said that, unlike the previous eight days, they had not heard gun battles and were able to leave their homes to buy food and take stock of the damage done.
While Campbell declined to speak about the rules of engagement for USA forces in Kunduz due to the ongoing investigation, he reconfirmed that “the Afghans asked for air support from a special forces team that we have on the ground providing train advise and assist in Kunduz”.