After US forces utterly destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz last month, the charity was quick to call the incident a war crime.
The US government apologized for the bombing, and promised to investigate what they claimed was an honest mistake. However, Doctors Without Borders has recently released their account of the bombing, which sounds less like an unfortunate mistake, and more like a genuine war crime.
For starters, the attack didn’t involve one errant bomb that happened to land on the hospital. It was an hour-long assault, and staff members sent 18 distress signals to officials in Afghanistan and the US throughout the duration of the bombing. What’s worse is the fact that some of the staff were shot from above as they fled the carnage. “Many staff describe seeing people being shot, most likely from the plane, as people tried to flee the main hospital building that was being hit with each airstrike…Some accounts mention shooting that appears to follow the movement of people on the run. [Doctors Without Borders] doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound.”
Long before the staff begged US officials to stop the attack, the existence of the hospital was widely known. It’s been located in Kunduz since 2011, the buildings prominently display MSF flags, and the charity alerted US forces to their presence in the days leading up to their air campaign over Kunduz. That’s why MSF is still looking for a real explanation for the attack.
“The question remains as to whether our hospital lost its protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack — and if so, why. The answer does not lie within the MSF hospital. Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the airstrikes hold these answers.”