Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), known as Doctors Without Borders in America, “demanded an independent” investigation into a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that killed 22 people, including 12 of the group’s doctors.
“Relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient,” stated MSF General Director Christopher Stokes. “Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter promised MSF that the U.S. will conduct its own investigation into the airstrike. He also pledged those responsible will be held accountable.
“We do know that American air assets … were engaged in the Kunduz vicinity, and we do know that the structures that–you see in the news–were destroyed,” he admitted. “I just can’t tell you what the connection is at this time.”
The attack forced the charity group to leave Kunduz.
“MSF hospital in Kunduz is not functional anymore,” announced Kate Stegemen, spokesperson for the group in Kabel.
On Saturday, an airstrike hit the hospital at 2:15 a.m. local time. As of publication, the attack killed 19 people and injured 37.
“(The bombing) constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” declared MSF after the bombing. “There are many patients and staff who remain unaccounted for. The numbers may grow as a clearer picture develops of the aftermath of this horrific bombing.”
The Afghanistan Ministry of Defense said the Taliban captured the hospital and used it “as a human shield.” But MSF immediately denied the claim, asserting they were “disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack.”
“These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital–with more than 180 staff and patients inside–because they claim that members of the Taliban were present. This amounts to an admission of a war crime,” said Stokes.
But a video allegedly shows weapons at the hospital. NBC News reports:
The Associated Press reported that video footage of the burned out compound in the east of Kunduz city showed automatic weapons, including rifles and at least one machine gun, on windowsills.
Stegeman said there were 105 patients and about 80 staff in the building at the time of the bombing–but no insurgents.
“All the gates were closed and we never allow arms in to our facilities,” explained Stegeman.