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Dhaka Tribune

UN terms Kunduz hospital air raid a war crime, Obama pledges probe

Update : 04 Oct 2015, 07:03 PM

A suspected Nato air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed nine staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Saturday was “inexcusable” and “possibly criminal,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

Zeid led a chorus of condemnation, without saying who carried out the strike, noting that an assault on a hospital could amount to a war crime. “This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal,” he said.

At least three children, four adult patients and 12 MSF personnel died in the blasts, the aid group said.  37 other people were wounded and many are still missing.

The US military said it conducted an air strike “in the vicinity” of the hospital as it targeted Taliban insurgents who were directly firing on US military personnel. It said an investigation had begun, while the White House said in a statement that it expects “a full accounting of the facts and circumstances” of the incident.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a thorough and impartial investigation “in order to ensure accountability.”

The medical charity said its staff phoned military officials at Nato in Kabul and Washington during the morning attack, but bombs continued to rain down for nearly an hour.

“All indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international Coalition forces,” MSF said, demanding “a full and transparent account.”

“On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to the medical professionals and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz,” US President Barack Obama said in the White House statement.

Huge explosions

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a US military AC-130 gunship had been operating in the area, firing at Taliban targets to provide what was essentially defensive, close-air support to ground forces.

But it was still unclear whether rounds from the AC-130 struck the hospital, the official said.

The hospital had treated almost 400 patients in the 150-bed hospital since fighting broke out on Monday, most for gunshot wounds. So many patients have flooded in that the hospital had to put them in offices and on mattresses on the floor. 

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