Saturday, October 3, 2015

US Airstrike bombs MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan relentlessly for an hour, despite knowing its location/ Reuters, NYT, Guardian

UPDATE:  From the Oct 11 WaPo:
The AC-130U plane, circling above in the dark, raked the medical compound with bursts of cannon fire, potentially even using high explosive incendiary munitions, for more than an hour. The assault left at least 22 people dead, some of them burned to death.
A US airstrike on Kuduz repeatedly strafed the MSF (Medicins Sans Frontieres or Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, the only tertiary care hospital in the area--which treats the wounded from all sides--even after calls to US military HQ by MSF begging it to stop.  At least 19 medical staff and patients died, some from burns in the ensuing fires. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said this may qualify as a war crime.

From the NY Times:
In a statement, the aid group accused the American military of continuing the bombing for 30 minutes after receiving phone calls telling military contacts that the hospital was being bombed.
“All parties to the conflict including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location [GPS Coordinates] of the MSF facilities — hospital, guesthouse, office,” the statement said. “MSF urgently seeks clarity on exactly what took place and how this terrible event could have happened,” it said.
From Reuters:
Almost 200 patients and employees were in the hospital, the only one in the region that can deal with major injuries, said Medecins Sans Frontieres, which raised the death toll to at least 16 by late on Saturday.
"We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz," operations director Bart Janssens said in a statement.
MSF said it gave the location of the hospital to both Afghan and U.S. forces several times in the past few months, most recently this week, to avoid being caught in crossfire.
From The Guardian:
“Why did the US blow up the whole hospital?” said Nasratullah, whose 25-year old cousin Akbar was among the doctors killed. “We know that the Americans are very clever. If they can target a single person in a car from their planes, why did they have to blow up the whole building?”
The charity said it had recently recirculated GPS coordinates of the hospital to all parties fighting in the conflict, even though it has been operating for years and is one of few medical facilities in the city so should have been well known.
Human Rights Watch said it had serious concerns about whether US forces had taken sufficient precautions to avoid striking such a sensitive target. Hospitals are among areas protected from attack under international laws governing conflict.

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