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‘No armed combatants, no fighting’: MSF issues Afghan hospital bombing report

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. © Mohammad Ismail
 
A Médecins Sans Frontières investigation into the Afghan hospital bombing by US forces has found that there were no armed combatants or weapons within the compound, and no fighting in the direct vicinity of the hospital at the time of the airstrikes.

In its report released on Thursday, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) addressed the “relentless and brutal aerial attack by US forces” which took place in Kunduz on October 3 and killed at least 30 people, including MSF staff.

“The MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the ‘no weapon’ policy and MSF was in full control of the hospital at the time of the airstrikes,” the organization stated.

The document also said there were “no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity” of the trauma center at the time of the strikes.

The hospital was “fully functioning” at the time of the airstrikes, with 105 patients admitted and surgeries taking place, according to the findings of the investigation.

In addition, MSF said the “agreement to respect the neutrality of our medical facility based on the applicable sections of International Humanitarian Law was fully in place and agreed with all parties to the conflict prior to the attack.”

READ MORE: US tank enters MSF hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz, ‘destroys potential evidence’ – reports

Despite that neutrality, the hospital was still the target of a US airstrike, leading MSF to ask how such an attack was allowed to happen.

“The question remains as to whether our hospital lost its protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack – and if so, why,” MSF said in its statement.

 

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MSF Report: Afghan Hospital Attack Had No Military Purpose

FILE - Hospital hit by a U.S. airstrike killed at least 30 people, including three children, according to officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, Kunduz, Afghanistan.
FILE – Hospital hit by a U.S. airstrike killed at least 30 people, including three children, according to officials with the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, Kunduz, Afghanistan.

The international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders says an internal review of last month’s airstrikes by U.S. forces on its hospital in northern Afghanistan shows no reason why the facility should have come under attack.

The organization, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), released a report Thursday documenting events surrounding the airstrikes. The report says there were no armed combatants fighting within or from the hospital grounds.

In response, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Army General John Campbell, has “met personally with MSF representatives.”

Spokesman Jeff Davis said the United States is working closely with MSF to identify the dead and wounded, conclude its own investigation and move ahead with condolence payments.

Last month, Campbell said the U.S. accepted full responsibility for the bombing, which, according to the Pentagon, came after Afghan forces called in U.S. airstrikes against Taliban fighters thought to be firing from inside the medical compound.

The MSF document, part of an ongoing review of events undertaken by the group, is based upon 60 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 records.

 

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