The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MFS) Sunday announced it will pull out of the war-torn Afghan city of Kunduz, after one of its hospitals was relentlessly attacked by U.S. warplanes in strikes that left at least 22 people dead, including 12 medical staff members.
The United States first denied having attacked the hospital, but the Pentagon later released a statement saying they may have inadvertently struck the clinic during a military operation and that they would complete an investigation into the incident within days.
Barack Obama also released a statement extending “depest condolences”:
President Obama's statement on the casualties in Kunduz: pic.twitter.com/EwgNap77O2— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 4, 2015
As more information surfaces, a senior U.S. military official told the New York Times that there was heavy gunfire near the hospital and that, according to initial reports, U.S. and Afghan troops on the ground called for air support as they came under intense fire.
The Doctors Without Borders hospital closure will leave many people in Kunduz and neighboring districts and provinces with scant medial care.
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#According to the nongovernmental organization, the bombed clinic was the only free trauma care facility in northern Afghanistan##. In 2014, it provided treatment to over 22,000 people and performed 5,900 surgical procedures.#
Now, the people wounded in Kunduz or nearby areas will have to seek medical assistance in neighboring provinces;while there are a few clinics left in Kunduz, none of them are equipped for operations# #or handle seriously injured by bombs, mortars and missiles.
Afghan officials said that when the hospital was attacked there were Taliban fighters inside shooting at the U.S. and Afghan troops, something Doctors Without Borders #denied in a harsh statement Sunday, which said it# was “disgusted” by the statements by Afghan authorities trying to justify the strike on the hospital and called for a transparent and independent investigation.
“These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital — with more than 180 staff and patients inside — because they claim that members of the Taliban were present,” MSF's general director, Christopher Stokes, said in the statement. “This amounts to an admission of a war crime.”
However, Afghan officials continued to suggest that the attack was justified: “I know that there were civilian casualties in the hospital, but a lot of senior Taliban were also killed,” said Abdul Wadud Paiman, a parliamentarian from Kunduz.
More than half of those killed were hospital workers and three of the patients killed were children.
MSF had been operating the hospital in Kunduz since 2011. The hospital was bombed Saturday, allegedly by U.S.-led coalition forces. In spite of pleas by the organization to local and international authorities, airstrikes on the hospital continued for more than 30 minutes after the Afghan and U.S. militaries were notified.
#The New York Times# reports that while local officials say things in the city are normalizing, the locals refuse to accept, saying the situation is critical. A Mr. Ahmad said there is no bread and “No shop is open, so that even the man who has money in his pocket and goes to purchase something can find nothing to bring home.”
There is also a drinking water and electricity crisis, as fighting on the ground continued.
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