Thursday 29 September 2016

‘US strike on Afghan hospital was no mistake’ - humanitarian charity

David Kearns

Published 19/10/2015 | 19:04

A vehicle is parked in front of a damaged building at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 16, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 16, 2015.REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
A vehicle is parked in front of a damaged building at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 16, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 16, 2015.REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE
Debris are seen inside the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital after it was it by the U.S. air strikes in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 17, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
A burned vehicle is seen at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 16, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

The head of an international humanitarian organisation whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was razed to the ground by a United States airstrike earlier this month has claimed the attack may have been deliberate.

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“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the coordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict," Christopher Stokes, general director MSF (Médicins Sans Frontiéres) told AP.

"The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital ... doesn't indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit," he pointed out.

The attack, in which an American aircraft repeatedly bombed the hospital, lasted for over an hour despite calls to Afghan, US and NATO to stop it, MSF said.

Read More: US analysts knew Afghanistan airstrike site was Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital

A member of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) looks at a damaged building inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 17, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
A member of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) looks at a damaged building inside the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan October 17, 2015. The hour-long air raid on October 3, 2015 killed 22 people, including 12 MSF staff, and led to the closure of the Kunduz trauma hospital, depriving tens of thousands of Afghans of health care, the prominent medical charity said. Picture taken October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.

The October 3 attack in the city of Kunduz killed 22 people - 12 of whom were MSF staff.

According to officials, the US gunship made five separate bombing runs over the course of an hour, directing heavy fire on the main hospital building, which contained the emergency room and intensive care unit.

Christopher Stokes, general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan October 8, 2015. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will review its operations in Afghanistan following last weekend's deadly U.S. air strike on a hospital in the city of Kunduz, officials from the international aid group said on Thursday. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Christopher Stokes, general director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan October 8, 2015. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) will review its operations in Afghanistan following last weekend's deadly U.S. air strike on a hospital in the city of Kunduz, officials from the international aid group said on Thursday. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Mr Stokes has warned that until MSF understands what took, “We cannot reopen and put our staff in danger because we have no guarantees that this unacceptable attack will not happen again.”

Repeatedly calling for an independent inquiry into the incident, Mr Stokes told AP that MSF wanted a "clear explanation because all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime."

Read More: MSF accuses US of 'changing its story' as coalition chief blames Afghan forces for lethal air-strike on hospital

Earlier this month US President Barack Obama apologised for the deadly airstrike, saying that the MSF hospital had been 'mistakenly struck'.

The international medical charity has accused Washington of changing its “rhetoric”, saying it had “embarrassingly changed its story at least four times - from not knowing for certain that it had struck a hospital, to shifting the responsibility straight to the Afghan government for requesting the bombardment.”

A wounded Afghan man, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The U.S. air strike in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 patients and staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital wasn't the first time the escalating war has affected an aid-run medical facility. There have even been instances since. Foreign aid workers and Afghan colleagues shaken by the weekend tragedy in Kunduz, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 14-year war, say increased violence around the country makes it harder to provide basic services in a country where NGOs help provide the vast majority of healthcare. To match Insight AFGHANISTAN-HEALTH/VIOLENCE REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
A wounded Afghan man, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, receives treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The U.S. air strike in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 patients and staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital wasn't the first time the escalating war has affected an aid-run medical facility. There have even been instances since. Foreign aid workers and Afghan colleagues shaken by the weekend tragedy in Kunduz, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 14-year war, say increased violence around the country makes it harder to provide basic services in a country where NGOs help provide the vast majority of healthcare. To match Insight AFGHANISTAN-HEALTH/VIOLENCE REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Wounded Afghan men, who survived a U.S. air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, receive treatment at the Emergency Hospital in Kabul October 8, 2015. The U.S. air strike in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 patients and staff at the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital wasn't the first time the escalating war has affected an aid-run medical facility. There have even been instances since. Foreign aid workers and Afghan colleagues shaken by the weekend tragedy in Kunduz, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 14-year war, say increased violence around the country makes it harder to provide basic services in a country where NGOs help provide the vast majority of healthcare. To match Insight AFGHANISTAN-HEALTH/VIOLENCE REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

“To finally clarifying in mid-October that the strike had indeed been requested by Kabul but that it had been US forces who had called in and directed the assault.”

Read More: US and Afghanistan vow to investigate Kunduz hospital bombing which killed 22 people

Despite the US military’s admission, MSF has stressed the assault “simply could not have been accidental” as the hospital’s location was “regularly shared with the military to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening.”

MSF International President Joanne Liu has previously called for the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, established under the Geneva Convention, to be “activated” to look into the attack.

However, neither the US, nor Afghanistan, are signatories to the document.

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