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Kunduz: US says Afghans forces requested air strike that hit MSF clinic -BBC


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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is Doctors Without Borders

Kunduz: US says Afghans requested air strike that hit MSF clinic

Afghan forces called in the air strike that hit a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) clinic
in Kunduz, killing 22 people, a US general says. Gen John Campbell admitted that no
US forces had been under fire at the time, reversing an earlier statement. MSF says
Afghan attempts to justify the strike amount to "an admission of a war crime".

Afghan forces backed by the US have retaken much of Kunduz, which was overrun by
the Taliban last week. Twelve MSF staff members and 10 patients were killed when the
hospital was hit on Saturday by a US airstrike. MSF says it was a lifeline for thousands
in the city and in northern Afghanistan.

"We have now learned that on 3 October, Afghan forces advised that they were taking
fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US air forces," said Gen Campbell,
the top commander of the US-led Nato coalition in Afghanistan.

"An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were
accidentally struck." He expressed his "deepest condolences" over the civilian deaths.

Afghan conflict: Is it ever legal to bomb a hospital?

Responding to Gen Campbell's remarks, Christopher Stokes, the General Director of MSF,
accused the US of "attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government".
"The reality is the US dropped those bombs," Mr Stokes said. "The US hit a huge hospital full
of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits,
even though it is part of a coalition.

"There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US
and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation
is ever more critical."

The Afghan defence ministry said on Saturday that "armed terrorists" were using the hospital
"as a position to target Afghan forces and civilians".

A day later, the Pentagon said a strike had been conducted against insurgents directly firing on
US forces - a claim Gen Campbell has now rolled back on.

MSF says none of its staff reported fighting inside the hospital compound prior to the strike,
though one local, Mohammad Arif, told the BBC Taliban militants had entered the hospital
building and there had been firing.

The Pentagon says a full, transparent investigation will be conducted into the incident. Gen
Campbell said the strike was carried out from an AC-130 gunship but declined to give further
details, including the rules of engagement under which US forces were operating. He said he
expected to receive a preliminary report into the incident within a couple of days.

Areas of Kunduz now controlled by government forces include the police chief's office, the
central square and the governor's compound. Residents ventured out of their homes and shops
reopened on Monday. However, pockets of Taliban resistance were reported on the outskirts
of Kunduz.

Who is saying what?

The Afghan defence ministry said "armed terrorists" were using the hospital "as a position
to target Afghan forces and civilians".

But MSF says the warring sides were well aware of the hospital's location, and that the bombing
went on for an hour despite repeated calls to US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and
Washington to call off the strikes. MSF also denied there were any militants in the hospital at the
time of the strikes and said the attack amounted to a war crime: "Not a single member of our staff
reported any fighting inside the hospital compound prior to the US air strike on Saturday morning."

On Monday, the US military changed its account of how the air strike came about, saying it was
requested by Afghan forces under Taliban fire. The US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Campbell,
also said no US forces had been under fire at the time, reversing an earlier statement, and acknowledged
that civilians were accidentally hit.

The US had previously said insurgents had been firing at American personnel.

Obama apologises to MSF president for Kunduz bombing

US President Barack Obama has apologised to the president of aid agency
Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) for a bombing that killed at least 22.

The US has said the bombing, which took place in the Afghan city of Kunduz,
was a mistake and it was attempting to strike the Taliban. Mr Obama has also
apologised to the president of Afghanistan.

"If it is necessary to hold individuals accountable, that will be done," said White
House spokesman Josh Earnest. Mr Obama "expressed his condolences" to MSF
president Joanne Liu, said Mr Earnest. "In the United States when we make mistakes,
we're honest about it. We own up to it," he said. Mr Earnest also hinted at the
possibility of paying victims and their families, a Department of Defense policy.
He said he could not say legally whether the bombing was a war crime but the
US "goes to great lengths to limit the loss of life" of civilians.

MSF is seeking to invoke a never-used body, the International Humanitarian
Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC), to investigate the US bombing on its hospital.
The group - also known as Doctors Without Borders - has said it does not trust
internal military inquiries into the bombing. IHFFC was set up in 1991 under the
Geneva Conventions.

MSF says the co-ordinates of the hospital were well-known and its bombing could
not have been a mistake. The aid agency - winner of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize -
has said it is proceeding from the assumption that the attack was a war crime.

A number of inquiries have been ordered - by the US Department of Justice,
the Pentagon, Nato and an American-Afghan team.

Letting these guys call in airstrikes is probably a bad idea.

Kunduz Hospital Attack: MSF Factsheet , October 07, 2015

From 2:08 a.m. until 3:15 a.m. on Saturday, October 3, the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was hit by a series of aerial
bombing raids at approximately 15-minute intervals. The main hospital building, which housed
the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was hit with precision,
repeatedly, during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.

-Our staff reported no armed combatants or fighting in the compound prior to the airstrike.

-The total number of people killed in the attack is 22, including 12 MSF staff members and
10 patients. Thirty-seven people were injured, including 19 members of the MSF team.

-From September 28, when major fighting broke out in Kunduz city, until the time of the
attack, MSF teams in Kunduz had treated 394 wounded people in the hospital.

-When the aerial attack occurred, there were 105 patients in the hospital and more than
80 MSF international and Afghan staff present.

-MSF’s facility in Kunduz was a fully functioning hospital that was full of patients and MSF staff.

-The attacks took place despite the fact that MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma
hospital to Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials as recently as Tuesday, 29 September.
The attack continued for more than 30 minutes after we first informed US and Afghan military officials
in Kabul and Washington that it was a hospital being hit.

-In the aftermath of the attack, the MSF team desperately tried to move wounded and ill patients out of
harm’s way, and tried to save the lives of wounded colleagues and patients after setting up a makeshift
operating theatre in an undamaged room.

-MSF’s hospital was the only facility of its kind in northeastern Afghanistan, providing free high level life-
and limb-saving trauma care. In 2014, more than 22,000 patients received care at the hospital and more
than 5900 surgeries were performed.

Slideshow of Trauma Center in Kunduz, Afghanistan

-The MSF hospital in Kunduz has been partially destroyed and is no longer operational. This leaves thousands
of people without access to emergency medical care when they need it most.

-We demand an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC.org)
to establish the facts of this event. The IHFFC is not a UN body; it was created in 1991 by Additional Protocol 1,
article 90 of the Geneva Conventions that govern the rules of war. The IHFFC is set up for precisely this purpose:
to independently investigate violations of humanitarian law, such as attacks on hospitals, which are protected in
conflict zones.

-MSF started working in Afghanistan in 1980. In Kunduz, as in the rest of Afghanistan, Afghan and international
staff work together to ensure the best quality of treatment. MSF supports the Ministry of Public Health in Ahmad
Shah Baba hospital in eastern Kabul; Dasht-e-Barchi maternity center in western Kabul; and Boost hospital in
Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. In Khost, in the east of the country, MSF operates a maternity hospital.

-As in all its projects, MSF doctors treat people according to their medical needs and do not make distinctions
based on a patient’s ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation.

-MSF relies only on private funding, and does not accept money from any government, for its work in Afghanistan.

MSF International President: "Even War Has Rules"
(Speech on Kunduz, Afghanistan, Delivered at Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland)

''On Saturday morning, MSF patients and staff killed in Kunduz joined the countless number of people
who have been killed around the world in conflict zones and referred to as "collateral damage" or as
an "inevitable consequence of war." International humanitarian law is not about "mistakes." It is about
intention, facts, and why.

The US attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz was the biggest loss of life for our organization in an airstrike.
Tens of thousands of people in Kunduz can no longer receive medical care now when they need it most.
Today we say: enough. Even war has rules. 

In Kunduz our patients burned in their beds. MSF doctors, nurses, and other staff were killed as they worked.
Our colleagues had to operate on each other. One of our doctors died on an improvised operating table—an
office desk—while his colleagues tried to save his life.

Today we pay tribute to those who died in this abhorrent attack. And we pay tribute to those MSF staff who,
while watching their colleagues die and with their hospital still on fire, carried on treating the wounded.

This was not just an attack on our hospital—it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be
tolerated. These Conventions govern the rules of war and were established to protect civilians in conflicts—
including patients, medical workers, and facilities. They bring some humanity into what is otherwise an
inhumane situation.

The Geneva Conventions are not just an abstract legal framework—they are the difference between life and
death for medical teams on the frontline. They are what allow patients to access our health facilities safely
and what allows us to provide health care without being targeted.

It is precisely because attacking hospitals in war zones is prohibited that we expected to be protected. And
yet, ten patients, including three children and twelve MSF staff, were killed in the aerial raids.

The facts and circumstances of this attack must be investigated independently and impartially, particularly
given the inconsistencies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened over recent days. We cannot rely
on only internal military investigations by the US, NATO, and Afghan forces.

Today we announce that we are seeking an investigation into the Kunduz attack by the International Humanitarian
Fact-Finding Commission. This Commission was established in the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions
and is the only permanent body set up specifically to investigate violations of international humanitarian law. We
ask signatory States to activate the Commission to establish the truth and to reassert the protected status of
hospitals in conflict.

Though this body has existed since 1991, the Commission has not yet been used. It requires one of the 76 signatory
States to sponsor an inquiry. Governments up to now have been too polite or afraid to set a precedent. The tool exists
and it is time it is activated.

It is unacceptable that States hide behind "gentlemen’s agreements" and in doing so create a free-for-all and an
environment of impunity. It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can
be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake.

Today we are fighting back for the respect of the Geneva Conventions. As doctors, we are fighting back for the sake of
our patients. We need you, as members of the public, to stand with us to insist that even wars have rules.

Jarnhamar said:
Letting these guys call in airstrikes is probably a bad idea.

These guys (the afghans) said there were Talibans in the hospital.
Those guys (the U.S. army) had the coordinated of the hospital.

Those doctors pull out and are asking for a public inquiry...
In that case having these guys direct you to where the Taliban are is probably a bad idea.


The executive director told tonight that they were precisely
bomb where the emergency and chirurgy units are, and even
after talking to the U.S. Army, it took them 30 minutes
to stop, so I would rather say it's a bad idea to be in a place
where an army can bomb you...

(Executive director of MSF, at http://ici.radio-canada.ca/premiere )
A related incident at the same hospital site:


Pentagon says U.S. military personnel rammed gate of MSF hospital
Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:02pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. military personnel rammed into the gate of a medical aid group's hospital in Afghanistan last week to enter the grounds of the building hit in a U.S. air strike earlier this month, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement on Friday that a U.S. tank had entered the grounds of its hospital in Kunduz without permission, damaging the compound, destroying potential evidence, and distressing its staff.

Department of Defense spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said on Monday that the vehicle in question was not a U.S. tank, but rather an Afghan tracked vehicle transporting a U.S. team on Oct. 15 to conduct an inspection to determine the structural integrity of the building...