Medecins Sans Frontieres wants an explanation after an air strike, probably carried out by U.S.-led forces, kills at least 19 patients and staff at a hospital run by the aid group in the northern city of Kunduz. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) demanded on Saturday (October 3) an immediate explanation after an airstrike hit a hospital run by the humanitarian organization in the Afghan city of Kunduz. At least 19 people were killed in what the U.S. military called possible "collateral damage" in the battle to oust Taliban insurgents. MSF's Director of Operations in Brussels Bart Janssens told Reuters that while the hospital was not far from the conflict ongoing in Kunduz, the organization did not believe there was any clear target close to the hospital. "We haven't had any communication yet from the international coalition, nor from the Afghan government directly to us. So that's why we clearly ask now, we want an explanation very fast and we want an independent investigation to be started," he said. Almost 200 patients and employees were in the hospital, the only one in the region that can deal with major injuries, MSF said. "We now know an aerial attack, of which carries very clearly the signature of being, a lot of indication, that it has been carried out by the international coalition forces in Afghanistan. What happened is that a plane arrived and in several ways it came four or five times over the hospital, and every time extremely precisely hit with a series of impacts on the main building of the hospital. This led to the horrible results of what we see," Janssens said. MSF said it gave the location of the hospital to both Afghan and U.S. forces several times in the past few months, most recently this week, to avoid being caught in crossfire. "The hospital is there since four years; it's a large hospital, the compound is larger than a football ground. And we have several times communicated through the GPS co-ordinates the exact location of the hospital to all warring parties in Afghanistan. So we really don't understand and we definitely do not accept the notification of collateral damage as we heard in the beginning in the first reaction," Janssens said. MSF said it had treated almost 400 patients in the 150-bed hospital since fighting broke out, most for gunshot wounds. So many patients have flooded in that the hospital had to put them in offices and on mattresses on the floor. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's spokesman said last week there would be no airstrikes inside the city because of the risk of mass civilian casualties.