News BlogAsiaHuman rights - IHL

American blunder on the MSF hospital in Kunduz?

MSF hospital in Kunduz on fire under shelling (credit: MSF)
MSF hospital in Kunduz on fire during bombing (credit: MSF)

(B2) The Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan was “ struck several times during sustained bombardment and was very badly damaged » denounces the humanitarian organization. According to MSF, twelve staff members and at least seven patients, including three children, died. 37 people were injured, including 19 staff members (*). This MSF trauma center – which is the only installation of its kind in the region – is notably provided by MSF Belgium.

« When the air attack took place this morning, we had 105 patients and companions in the hospital and more than 80 international and national MSF medical staff. We do not yet have final casualty figures. But our medical team provides first aid and we register the deceased explains Bart Janssens, director of operations at MSF Belgium. " We are deeply shocked by this attack, the killing of our staff and patients ". And to call “ all parties to respect the safety of facilities and healthcare personnel ».

Americans recognize a mistake at their fingertips

This bombardment would be due to an error of the American strikes. The US forces have, in fact, carried out an air attack " in the city of Kunduz at 02:15 (local), against individuals who threaten the force. This strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility recognizes Colonel Brian Tribus, spokesman for US forces in the region. " The incident is under investigation »

Several series of bombardments

The scenario of the strikes as recounted by MSF, however, leaves serious doubt about this first version. And we seem beyond mere collateral damage. “From 02:08 a.m. until 03:15 a.m. local time, the MSF trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by a series of aerial bombardments approximately 15 minutes apart. The central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy, was hit several times in high precision during each aerial incursion, while surrounding buildings were left almost intact. »

The coalition behind the bombings for MSF

For MSF, there is no doubt that the coalition is behind the bombings. “All indications now point to the bombardment being carried out by international coalition forces. » Aggravating fact: The bombing took place even though MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma hospital to the Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials, including very recently on Tuesday, September 29, precisely to prevent the hospital from being hit. (…) We will not accept that the dozens of victims of this bombing are simply considered “collateral damage”. »

MSF calls for an investigation

“MSF demands full accountability from the coalition for its aerial bombardment activities on Kunduz on Saturday morning. MSF also calls for an independent investigation to be carried out so that responsibility for this attack can be clearly established. (…) We demand the most complete transparency from the coalition forces. »

Since the fighting broke out last Monday, the MSF hospital has treated 394 wounded.


(*) A first assessment reported 3 dead and 30 people without news. Balance sheet revised upwards in the morning.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).