‘Collateral damage’: 9 Dead at Doctors Without Borders Hospital After U.S. Airstrike in Kunduz

A hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz has been hit and partially destroyed in an overnight “aerial attack” that killed at least three Medecins Sans Frontieres staff. NATO has admitted a US airstrike may have caused accidental “collateral damage.”

US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz at 2:15am on Saturday, said NATO coalition spokesman Colonel Brian Tribus.

“The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” he said. “This incident is under investigation.”

“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)  said in a statement.

Three MSF staff have been confirmed dead, while more than 30 are unaccounted for, according to the organization’s official statement.

At the time that the“aerial attack”occurred there were over 80 personnel, both local and international, inside the building, treating over 105 patients.

“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased,” MSF said.

“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased,” MSF said.

Dr Masood Nasim, who was leading the MSF medical team at trauma hospital in Kunduz, said on Thursday that his facility has been at the front line since the hostilities began on September 28.

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“Early on Monday morning, I came to MSF’s hospital here in Kunduz after hearing the sound of shells falling. By midday our hospital was on the frontline, with fighting right outside the gate. You could hear the sound of shelling, rockets and airplanes. Some bullets have come into the hospital, some even through the roof of the intensive care unit,” Nasim said.

Adil Akbar, a doctor at the hospital who was on duty at the time, told AP that the operating theater, emergency room and other parts of the hospital complex had been struck in the bombing.

“I managed to escape after attack but I know that most of the staff and even some of the patients are missing,” he said.

Fighting has been continuing around Kunduz for the past six days after Taliban overran the city on Monday. The US military supported Afghan forces with airstrikes in order to drive the militants back on Thursday.

On Friday, local residents said that some Taliban fighters remained holed up in civilian homes in Kunduz and had been fighting Afghan forces. At least sixty people were killed and around 400 wounded in the fighting since Monday, the spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Wahidullah Mayar, wrote on his Twitter account. The government says 200 Taliban fighters were killed.

The three-day Taliban takeover of Kunduz, a city of some 300,000, was an embarrassing blow to the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

During the three days under Taliban captivity, extremists, according Amnesty International, engaged in atrocities, extra-judicial killings, torture, and the harassment of civilians.

Accounts of “multiple credible reports of killings, rapes, and other horrors meted out against the city’s residents must prompt the Afghan authorities to do more now to protect civilians, in particular in areas where more fighting appears imminent,” said Horia Mosadiq, an Afghan researcher at Amnesty International.