Médecins Sans Frontières has confirmed that 12 of its staff and at least seven patients, including three children, have been killed after a trauma centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan was bombed at the weekend.
MSF has said that the attack, which it says all indications currently point to being carried out by US-led international Coalition forces, constitutes a “grave violation of International Humanitarian Law”.
At the time of the attack, which took place at 2:10 AM on Saturday, MSF had 105 patients and their care-takers in the hospital, and over 80 MSF international and national staff present. In total, 37 people were injured, including nine members of MSF staff.
A spokeswoman from MSF said they were unable to reveal the nationalities of those killed at this point in time.
In a statement from the White House, US President Barack Obama said that an investigation had been launched by the Department of Defense.
He said: "On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to the medical professionals and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz."
Call for independent investigation
MSF is calling for a “full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body”, and has referred to the attack as a “war crime”. Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, said that “relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient”.
Stokes said: "Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the US airstrike on Saturday morning. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients and their caretakers.
"We reiterate that the main hospital building, where medical personnel were caring for patients, was repeatedly and very precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched. We condemn this attack, which constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.”
MSF has also said that it informed all fighting parities of the hospital’s GPS coordinates. It said “MSF wishes to clarify that all parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS Coordinates) of the MSF facilities - hospital, guesthouse, office and an outreach stabilization unit in Chardara (to the north-west of Kunduz).
“As MSF does in all conflict contexts, these precise locations were communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months, including most recently on 29 September.”
The charity said that bombing on the hospital continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.