Afghans search for answers after fatal hospital strike

After the Taliban seized Kunduz at the end of last month, Afghan troops with the support of the United States air force started a huge operation to retake the province.

Selasa, 13 Okt 2015 12:00 WIB

MSF Hospital after US airstrike. (Photo: Ghayor Waziri)

MSF Hospital after US airstrike. (Photo: Ghayor Waziri)

After the Taliban seized Kunduz at the end of last month, Afghan troops with the support of the United States air force started a huge operation to retake the province. 

But five days into the operation, an American airstrike on a hospital run by Medecins Sans Frontieres, (MSF), or Doctors without Borders, killed 22 people.

Rights groups have described the strike as a ‘war crime’, while the Afghan government has vowed to investigate. 

Najeeb Osmani has just arrived from Kunduz province, transporting his cousin, an MSF doctor who was killed in the attack – inside a coffin.

“When I took my cousin’s dead body from the hospital, there were dozens of other bodies in a very vulnerable state. Now who can answer this?” he asks, “A family sends their educated son to a hospital to serve the people and believes he is safe as an MSF doctor, but US forces are very brutally targeting the hospital and kill him in an airstrike…” 

This week the U.S admitted it was their strike that hit the MSF hospital. 

But the American military has continued to change its story. At first saying it was collateral damage, then a tragic incident, and also attempting to blame it on the Afghan government.

Sidiq Sidiqee, a spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry, says the government is investigating the attack. 

“Around 80 staff at the hospital were carried to a safe place, and around 15 of them were MSF international staff, but unfortunately some MSF staff were killed in the airstrike,” says Sidiqee, “Unfortunately, the Taliban was trying to use MSF hospital as a safe place. I want to say we are investigating this incident. ” 

Najeed Osmani, who lost his 30-year-old cousin in the attack, says his government should take responsibility for the strike. 

“The Afghan government is a hundred percent responsible for this incident,” claimed Osmani, “The US air force was targeting places in coordination with the Afghan government.”  

In a statement released to the press this week, MSF said there was no justification for such a horrific attack.

“The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition,” said MSF. 

With gaps in the story on both sides, MSF has rejected investigations by the US, Afghanistan and NATO – saying an independent and transparent investigation is critical.

Muhammad Hashim, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, agrees. 

“Different representative should seriously investigate this incident, to find out, are the American forces right or wrong, if they were reckless, and to punish those responsible. No law allows the bombing of hospitals, while dozens of people are under treatment there,” said Hashim. 

Doctor Muhammad Faisal was deeply upset to hear his colleague Dr Osmani was one of 12 doctors killed in the attack.  

Ten patients, including three children, were also among the victims that were burned alive in their beds when the strike hit. 

At the end of the day, doctor Faisal says he isn’t confident either government will deliver real answers.

For now it’s a difficult ask for the government because everything is doubtful. We don’t know actually, who is responsible for this tragedy: the government, the US or the Taliban,” said Doctor Fasial,  “I don’t have any wish or demand from government. We don’t see any organization that we can demand our right to find out what happened.” 



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