Pentagon whitewash of hospital bombing rejected by Doctors Without Borders

This 4 October 2015 video is called Kunduz attack may amount to war crime – UN Human Rights chief.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

MSF/Doctors Without Borders: Kunduz report leaves important questions unanswered

Today, 20:08

MSF is shocked by the investigation report by the US military about their bombing of an MSF hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. According to MSF director Christopher Stokes the findings just cause more questions.

Stokes finds it shocking that US troops launched an attack without having a view of the target and without having a list of buildings that should not be attacked.

He also points out faltering communication. During the attack, MSF staff have called the US Americans to say that they made a mistake. Yet the Americans continued bombarding. In the bombardments at least thirty people died.

Huge negligence

The series of faults points according to MSF to a massive failure by the US military. The destruction of the hospital can not be brushed aside by the organization as a human error, as the military does .

“It seems that thirty people died and hundreds of thousands of people in Kunduz are now without life-saving care because the hospital was closest to an open field and roughly resembled the description of the target,” writes Stokes.

MSF again calls for an independent investigation. “Research into this terrible event should not only be done by the parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan.”

‘US Air Force destroyed our hospital senselessly’, Doctors Without Borders says

This 3 October 2015 video, from the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in England, is called Video shows the bombed Kunduz hospital which claimed 50 lives.

The introduction to a report by MSF/Doctors Without Borders says:

5 November 2015

Public release of initial MSF internal review

Hospitals have protected status under the rules of war. And yet in the early hours of 3 October, the MSF hospital in Kunduz came under relentless and brutal aerial attack by US forces.

Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC-130 gunship while fleeing the burning building. At least 30 MSF staff and patients were killed.

This week, MSF concluded an initial review of the facts before, during and in the aftermath of the airstrikes. Although our internal review is an ongoing process, we have decided to share these initial outcomes with the public, to counter speculation and to be transparent. Details that could identify individuals have been removed. Explanatory footnotes have been added in places where an external reader may need additional clarification.

This is the view from inside the hospital. What we lack is the view from outside the hospital – what happened within the military chains of command.

The facts compiled in this review confirm our initial observations: the MSF trauma centre was fully functioning as a hospital with 105 patients admitted and surgeries ongoing at the time of the US airstrikes; the MSF rules in the hospital were implemented and respected, including the ‘no weapons’ policy; MSF was in full control of the hospital before and at the time of the airstrikes; there were no armed combatants within the hospital compound and there was no fighting from or in the direct vicinity of the trauma centre before the airstrikes.

What we know is that we were running a hospital treating patients, including wounded combatants from both sides – this was not a ‘Taliban base.’

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. The answer does not lie within the MSF hospital. Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the airstrikes hold these answers.

We know that there were many different forces fighting in the area around our hospital: special forces, regular army, police and the armed opposition. Each of these forces may have been operating according to different understandings or interpretations of how international humanitarian law applies to medical work in war. Any ambiguity has deadly consequences for our ability to work on frontlines.

What we demand is simple: a functioning hospital caring for patients, such as the one in Kunduz, cannot simply lose its protection and be attacked; wounded combatants are patients and must be free from attack and treated without discrimination; medical staff should never be punished or attacked for providing treatment to wounded combatants.

On 7 October 2015, MSF launched a call for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact Finding Commission. Although the IHFFC has made itself available for an investigation, the United States and Afghan Governments have yet to consent to this request. Consenting to the IHFFC is a critical step in demonstrating a commitment to the Geneva Conventions. Today, we are handing over this internal report to both the public and the IHFFC.

The attack on our hospital in Kunduz destroyed our ability to treat patients at a time when we were needed the most.

We need a clear commitment that the act of providing medical care will never make us a target. We need to know whether the rules of war still apply.


Dr Joanne Liu, MSF International President

While spelling out the carnage inflicted upon wounded men, women and children as well as doctors, nurses and other medical staff that day, the report adds to the already overwhelming evidence that the attack was neither an accident nor a case of “collateral damage,” but rather a deliberate war crime ordered by the Pentagon to further US military objectives in Afghanistan: here.

See also here.

Afghan hospital bombing was not a ‘mistake’, Doctors Without Borders say

This video says about itself:

Doctors Without Borders“: In a bombed hospital in Kunduz burned children alive (06.10.15)

Among those killed in the shelling of the hospital of the international organization “Doctors without Borders» (MSF) in the Afghan Kunduz were children who were burned alive during the air strike, said a member of the organization’s leadership, the president of the operations center for MSF in Brussels Maini Nicholas. “On Saturday morning [the United States air force] began bombing the hospital by air. It lasted more than an hour. There have been several approaches, several planes flew and shot at the hospital. The shelling affected the main building, where the intensive care unit, ambulance and physiotherapy, which was a lot of employees [were hit] ” she said, reports RIA Novosti.

According to the organization, the air bombardment of the hospital started early on Saturday morning. As a result of falling shells in the central building of the hospital a fire started.

“The staff ran out to the street when the building caught fire. Later, we sadly noted that 10 patients died. Six of them were in the intensive care unit and could not leave the building. Some of them were burned alive in their beds, and among them were children. Also killed 12 employees of “Doctors without Borders”. A total of 22 dead and 37 wounded, “she said.

“We do not know the whereabouts of the staff and whether they are alive … A few people left (Kunduz), but we do not know where they are. Because the situation there – it’s chaos” she said.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghanistan: US’s hospital attack was no ‘error’ – MSF

Monday 19th october 2015

Charity chief slams deliberate and deadly strafing by gunship

DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS (MSF) has rejected US claims that its attack on an Afghan hospital was made in error.

MSF general director Christopher Stokes said in an Associated Press interview that the “extensive, quite precise destruction” of the bombing raid casts doubt on US military assertions.

Mr Stokes said the attack on October 3 that killed 22 patients and staff should be investigated as a possible war crime.

In the interview, held outside the burnt-out main hospital building in Kunduz on Friday, Mr Stokes said MSF wanted a “clear explanation because all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law and therefore a war crime.

“The hospital was repeatedly hit both at the front and the rear and extensively destroyed and damaged, even though we have provided all the co-ordinates and all the right information to all the parties in the conflict.

“The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit,” he said.

MSF has said the bombing went on for more than an hour despite calls to Afghan, US and Nato forces. The US gunship made five separate strafing runs in that time.

The attack by the AC-130 — the kind of gunship used in the brutal US war in Vietnam — was ordered as Afghan national army troops were fighting to recapture Kunduz from the Taliban.

Associated Press has reported that US special operations analysts were scrutinising the hospital days before it was destroyed as they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to co-ordinate Taliban activity.

MSF has denied there were any armed Taliban fighters on the hospital grounds at the time of the attack.

“The compound was not entered by Taliban soldiers with weapons,” Mr Stokes said.

“What we have understood from our staff and guards is that there was very strong, very good control of what was happening in and around the compound and they reported no firing in the hours preceding the destruction of the hospital.”

‘Afghan hospital bombing was deliberate, not a mistake’

A Doctors Without Borders worker, injured by the Uniited States air force attack on the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Signals for targeted attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz

Today, 20:21

President Obama has apologized to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the attack on the hospital in Kunduz. Yesterday United States General Campbell already said that the attack was a mistake.

Anonymous sources from around ​​the general reported today to the New York Times that he was also convinced that the Americans did not follow their own guidelines.

Although the Americans have largely withdrawn from Afghanistan, they are still present with combat aircraft and 10,000 troops. Only in three cases the US Americans may carry out air strikes: there must be intervention to eliminate terrorists, or to protect United States troops or to assist the Afghan army and prevent land being lost.

NOS correspondent Arjen van der Horst says that according to General Campbell in the bombing of the MSF clinic not any of these three conditions was met. Van der Horst: “The picture emerges of a bombardment that deliberately targeted this hospital. had There are more and more puzzle pieces confirming this.”

The report that the MSF clinic was under fire for thirty minutes and was the target of several waves of attacks, according to Van der Horst has not been contradicted by the Pentagon. The hospital was also the only building in the area which was hit.

Puzzle pieces

One of the other pieces of the puzzle is the fact that the Americans used the so-called AC-130 aircraft; because of its firepower it is sometimes called a flying tank. Van der Horst: “The plane is flying pretty low, operates always at night and therefore always support is needed on the ground. Units designating a target and that was the case in Kunduz. That information came from the Afghan army. One wonders whether the Americans relied blindly on their coordinates.”

The Afghan government have called the attack justified because the Taliban supposedly used the hospital for warfare. This is strongly denied by MSF, but they do point out that the Afghans actually admit that the hospital was a target. According to Van der Horst, this is further evidence that it was not a mistake, not collateral damage.

As a possible motive for the attack he names the friction that exists between the charity and the Afghan government. MSF is a neutral organization and treats injuries of all warring parties, including Taliban fighters. The Afghan army had a bone to pick with MSF. In June the military had already invaded the hospital to arrest wounded Taliban fighters.

Van der Horst: “Over the past fourteen years, there have often been innocent Afghan casualties, but their voices are rarely heard, and when they are heard, then they are bulldozed by statements from the Pentagon which are adopted uncritically by the US American media. This time the victim is a western organization with eloquent spokespersons, an organization for which also in the USA respect exists. They do get listened to.”

THE international Red Cross joined Doctors Without Borders (MSF) yesterday in calling for an investigation of last week’s US bombing of a hospital in northern Afghanistan: here.

US officials seek to contain fallout from hospital massacre in Afghanistan: here.

Afghan hospital bombed, Doctors Without Borders distrusts Pentagon investigation

This Reuters video says about itself:

MSF says Kunduz hospital bombing could be a ‘war crime

6 October 2015

Aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres dismisses claims that an air strike on an Afghan hospital was targeting militant fighters. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Suspicious MSF/Doctors Without Borders demands independent investigation about Kunduz

Today, 13:36

MSF demands an independent investigation into the bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz. The organization has no faith in the investigations which the United States, NATO and Afghanistan have announced.

When the bombardment happened last Saturday, 22 people were killed. US warplanes targeted the clinic. Initially it was said that this occurred at the request of the Afghan government, but now the US has said that the US military itself commanded this. General Campbell has acknowledged that the attack was a mistake.

Special commission

MSF calls the attack a war crime and wants a special committee to do the fact-finding. This committee, the IHFFC, was established in 1991 to investigate serious violations of international law and derives from the Geneva Conventions. Up to now, the committee has never been deployed.

The founding treaty of the committee is signed by 76 countries. The United States and Afghanistan are not amongst them. The committee can only get to work if all parties agree.

See also here.

Doctors Without Borders: we received no advance warning of US airstrike. Such action would be a violation of the US Defense Department’s own manual governing the rules of war, as President Obama calls MSF president to apologize: here.

The Pentagon’s Law of War Manual: here.