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Afghanistan

Charity review finds US attack on MSF hospital "conducted with a purpose to kill and destroy”

At least 30 people were killed, including 13 staff members, 10 patients and seven unrecognisable bodies yet to be identified.

THE INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reviewed the October 3 airstrikes by US forces on its hospital in northern Afghanistan.

At least 30 people were killed, including 13 staff members, 10 patients and seven unrecognisable bodies yet to be identified.

The internal review describes patients burning in their beds, medical staff that were decapitated and lost limbs, and others who were shot from the air while they fled the burning building. MSF General Director Christopher Stokes said:

The view from inside the hospital is that this attack was conducted with a purpose to kill and destroy.

“But we don’t know why. We don’t have the view from the cockpit, nor what happened within the US and Afghan military chains of command.”

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Findings

The initial findings of the MSF review firmly establish the facts from inside the hospital in the days leading up to and during the attack.

The review includes the details of the provision of the GPS coordinates and the log of phone calls from MSF to military authorities in attempt to stop the airstrikes.

MSF had reached an agreement with all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of the hospital, based on international humanitarian law.

International president of MSF, Dr Joanne Liu, said, “We held up our end of the agreement – the MSF trauma centre in Kunduz was fully functioning as a hospital with surgeries ongoing at the time of the US airstrikes.

MSF’s no-weapons policy was respected and hospital staff were in full control of the facility prior to and at the time of the airstrikes.

Among the 105 patients at the time of the airstrikes, MSF was treating wounded combatants from both sides of the conflict in Kunduz, as well as women and children.

The attack destroyed our ability to treat patients at a time of their greatest need.

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Stokes added that, “Some public reports are circulating that the attack on our hospital could be justified because we were treating Taliban.

Wounded combatants are patients under international law, and must be free from attack and treated without discrimination. Medical staff should never be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants.

The document, part of an ongoing review of events undertaken by MSF, is based upon sixty debriefings of MSF national and international employees who worked at the 140-bed trauma center, internal and public information, before and after photographs of the hospital, email correspondence, and telephone call records.

Read: The US is struggling to explain how it bombed an MSF hospital and killed 22 people>

Read: After patients burn to death in hospital bombing, charity refuses to take US money>

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