US-Led Airstrike on Afghan Hospital Possible War Crime: UN

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The US-led air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people, including 12 members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was "inexcusable" and possibly criminal, the UN's human rights chief said on Sunday.

US-Led Airstrike on Afghan Hospital Possible War Crime: UN

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called for a full and transparent investigation, noting that, "if established as deliberate in a court of law, an air strike on a hospital may amount to a war crime".

"This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal," Zeid said in a statement Sunday.

Among the fatalities in the early Saturday morning attack were three children.

It also wounded 37 people, including 19 MSF staff, 18 patients and caretakers, according to the medical charity known by its French initials, MSF.

MSF President Meinie Nicolai condemned the attack as "abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law."

"We demand total transparency from coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage'," Al Jazeera reported.

Officials of the charity organization said they "frantically phoned" NATO and Washington DC, as bombs rained on the hospital for "nearly an hour".

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bart Janssesns, MSF operations chief, demanded "more answers" from the US government, adding that the location of the hospital has been well-known by US-led forces for the last five years.

Vickie Hawkins, another MSF spokesman, told Al Jazeera that the last time the US-led coalition was provided the exact location of the hospital was on September 29.

Collateral damage

Al Jazeera's Qais Azimy, reporting from Puli Khumri, about 130km from Kunduz, where some of the survivors were treated, described a "heartbreaking" scene at one local hospital.

He said that two children, who were injured in previous fighting in Kunduz, recalled how they and their father survived by hiding under a table.

The MSF hospital is seen as a key medical lifeline in Kunduz, which has been running "beyond capacity" in recent days of fighting, which saw the Taliban seize control of the provincial capital for several days.

The trauma centre is the only medical facility in the region that can deal with major injuries.

At the time of the bombing, 105 patients and their caretakers and more than 80 MSF international and national staff were present in the hospital, the charity said.

Following the attack, MSF's operation is "effectively stopped" in Kunduz, MSF's Janssens told Al Jazeera.

The Taliban's offensive in Kunduz, their biggest tactical success since 2001, marks a major blow for Afghanistan's Western-trained forces, who have largely been fighting on their own since last December.


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