US commander says Afghan forces requested deadly Kunduz hospital air strike

06/10/2015 14:11
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, October 6, 2015, Asia-Plus – AFP reports the top American commander in Afghanistan said on October 5 that Afghan forces called in a US air strike on a Kunduz hospital that killed 22 people.

General John Campbell's statement marks the first US military acknowledgement it was behind Saturday's devastating raid in the northern Afghan city which triggered international outrage.

But his remarks prompted Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) (MSF) to blast the “discrepancies" in US accounts of the strike, which caused patients to burn to death in their beds and reduced the hospital to smoldering rubble.

“We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US air forces,” Campbell told reporters.

“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck.”

According to AFP, this statement was at odds with previous US military claims that the strike was carried out to protect American special forces on the ground from enemy fire.

There was no immediate reaction from Afghan officials. But they have previously claimed that insurgents were using the hospital as a position to target soldiers and civilians.

We will recall that MSF branded the incident a war crime.  From 2:08 am until 3:15 am local time October 3, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was reportedly 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.

The bombing reportedly 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.  As is routine practice for MSF in conflict areas, MSF had communicated the exact location of the hospital to all parties to the conflict.

MSF said the October 3 aerial bombing raids killed at least 22 people, including MSF staff.  Besides the 22 people who were killed -- 12 staff members and 10 patients -- 40 others were reportedly seriously injured in the air strikes.   MSF said some 105 patients and their caregivers, as well as more than 80 international and local MSF staff, were in the hospital at the time of the bombing.

MSF denied any militants were present in the facility.

 

 

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