At least three separate investigations have been launched into the October 3rd airstrike of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The bombing, which caused global revulsion, forced the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to close the hospital’s trauma center.

The horrific aerial bombing killed twelve staff members and at least 10 patients, including three children. Thirty-seven people were injured including 19 staff members. This attack constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. MSF demands a full and transparent account from the Coalition regarding its aerial bombing activities over Kunduz and is also calling for an independent investigation.

At the time of the aerial attack there were 105 patients and their caretakers in the hospital, alongside more than 80 international and national MSF staff. From 2:08 AM until 3:15 AM local time, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by a series of aerial bombing raids at approximately 15 minute intervals. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.

The bombing took place despite the fact that MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma hospital to Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials as recently as September 29, to avoid that the hospital be hit. As is routine practice for MSF in conflict areas, MSF had communicated the exact location of the hospital to all parties to the conflict.

Heman Nagarathnam, MSF head of programs in northern Afghanistan gave his account of what happened, saying “The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle round,” “There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again. When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames. Those people that could be moved quickly were taken to the building’s two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds.”

In the aftermath of the attack, the MSF team desperately tried to save the lives of wounded colleagues and patients, setting up a makeshift operating theater in an undamaged room. Some of the most critically injured patients were transferred to a hospital in Puli Khumri, a two hour drive away. MSF expresses its sincere condolences to the families and friends of its staff members and patients who have tragically lost their lives in this attack.

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