External Affairs

US Army Plane Alleged to Have Bombed Only Hospital in Kunduz, Run By MSF

A Médecins Sans Frontières trauma centre in Kunduz, the only one of its kind in the area since 2011, was bombed allegedly by a US Army plane on October 3. So far, 12 MSF staff and 10 patients, including three children, have been reported dead while 37 others have been injured, including 19 members of MSF.

The attack on the hospital violates international humanitarian law, which explicitly states that such structures in conflict zones are protected until declared otherwise. According to an MSF statement, on the night of the bombing, staff working in the hospital heard what was later confirmed to be a US Army plane circle around multiple times, releasing its bombs on the same building within the hospital compound each time. The targeted building housed the intensive care unit, emergency rooms and a physiotherapy ward. Remarkably, surrounding buildings in the compound were left mostly untouched. MSF claims that despite alerting the Afghan and coalition military leadership, the attack went on for nearly 30 minutes. Moreover, the coordinates of the hospital were well known and had even been shared with security forces on September 29.

The implication is that the decision to raze a fully functional hospital to the ground was conscious and deliberate. Statements issued by the Afghan military suggest that the Taliban was using the hospital to fire on coalition forces, although the attacks were conducted without conclusive proof. Subsequently, the MSF claims that this is the Afghan and Coalition forces admitting to having committed a war-crime.

MSF wrote, “We need answers, not just for us but for all medical and humanitarian staff assisting victims of conflict, anywhere in the world. The preserve of health facilities as neutral, protected spaces depends on the outcome of a transparent, independent investigation.” The charity has since demanded an independent probe.