An airstrike apparently carried out by U.S. forces heavily damaged a charitable hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 19 people — three of them reportedly children — in an incident that a senior U.N. official equated to a war crime.
The airstrike occurred before dawn when a Doctors Without Borders trauma center in war-torn Kunduz was struck while doctors were treating dozens of patients. Hospital officials said they were assaulted from the air for 30 to 45 minutes, resulting in a large fire that burned some patients to death in their beds. Among those killed were 12 of the charity group’s staff members, the group said.
“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” said Meinie Nicolai, the group’s president.
While the charity’s workers reported waves of bombs hitting their facility, the U.S.-led military coalition in Kabul issued a statement confirming one American airstrike that may have caused “collateral damage” to a “medical facility.” Authorities said it was launched against “insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. servicemembers” who had traveled to Kunduz to advise Afghan security forces.
Watch: Air strike that killed 19 doctors in Afghanistan at Obama’s order. It was a flagrant war crime!