19 Killed In Doctors Without Borders Hospital Bombing In Afghanistan

Photo: MSF/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Early Saturday morning, a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan was hit by airstrikes, reportedly killing 19 people, including 12 staffers and seven patients. Of those patients, three were reported to be children.

According to CNN, the U.S. military was conducting an airstrike in Kunduz, where the trauma center is located, at the time of the bombing at approximately 2:10 a.m. local time. The incident is being investigated by the U.S. military, who are specifically looking to determine whether an AC-130 gunship, which was in the area defending U.S. special operations troops, was responsible for the attack.

The question, of course, is how the hospital was hit in the first place. A statement from Doctors Without Borders — known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) — says that they had given their exact coordinates to both the U.S. and Kabul authorities as recently as September 29, days after the Taliban had invaded the city located on the main highway between Kabul and Tajikistan.

"The bombing in Kunduz continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed by MSF that its hospital was struck," the statement reads. "MSF urgently seeks clarity on exactly what took place and how this terrible event could have happened."
Photo: MSF/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen Mark Hertling told CNN that while giving coordinates should be enough to deter disaster, mistakes do happen. "There are all sorts of things that could go wrong...Did the pilot have this no-fly area?" Hertling said. "Was there something wrong with the aircraft? Was there something wrong with the bomb or the weapons system? All of those things will be part of the investigation."

Since fighting in the region broke out between the Taliban and the U.S. roughly six days ago, Doctors Without Borders has been caring for hundreds of people who had been injured in the fighting. At the time of the attack, the world charity says there were 105 patients and personnel in the building, which is the only facility "providing free life- and limb-saving trauma care" in the whole northeastern region of Afghanistan.

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders says 37 people were injured, including 19 staff members. Currently, 30 people remain unaccounted for and the charity expects the number of people injured and killed to increase. Those who were critically injured in the strikes have been transported to a hospital that is a two-hour drive away.

The United Nations released a statement condemning "in the strongest terms, the tragic and devastating air strike on the Médecins sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz early this morning, which resulted in the deaths and injury of medical personnel, patients, and other civilians."

The International Committee of the Red Cross also expressed anger over the strikes, stating, "Such attacks against health workers and facilities undermine the capacity of humanitarian organizations to assist the Afghan people at a time when they most urgently need it."
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