US tank enters MSF hospital in Afghanistan’s Kunduz, ‘destroys potential evidence’ – reports
A US military vehicle has allegedly forced its way into the hospital in Afghanistan which was devastated by US airstrikes two weeks ago. The move was an unwelcome surprise for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) which operates the site.
Members of a joint investigation team from the US, NATO and Afghan government were aboard the heavy military vehicle, Reuters reported citing a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) statement on Thursday.
“Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear for the MSF team,” the group said, adding that the investigators had previously promised they would notify the organization of any actions involving MSF personnel or assets.
NATO's spokesperson in Afghanistan said the incident was being "reviewed."
"It's a violation of international humanitarian law, so we want to see the facts and understand why," MSF president Meinie Nicolai told RT, referring to the US attack on the hospital in Kunduz. "Under the Geneva conventions medical care and hospitals are protected sites, they are not allowed to be targeted during war and this is what has happened in this case," the member of the MSF International Board said, adding that the organization is seeking an independent investigation.
President Obama has apologized for the strike that killed at least 22 people, including 12 medical staff and ten patients, and the Pentagon said it would "make condolence payments and payments toward repair of the hospital."
"For us it's not convincing," Nicolai told RT. "We have given the coordinates, this was a hospital that was open for four years, and now to just say that it's a mistake, that something else had to be bombed, is difficult to believe."
The MSF-operated site was attacked five times in the span of an hour by a C-130 gunship, despite repeated pleas from the MSF to US forces, the international humanitarian group said. While the main hospital building, which housed an emergency room and intensive care unit, was destroyed, no surrounding buildings were hit.
"What we need is the answer to the question that we are asking everybody ... Why this hospital was targeted," MSF's country representative in Afghanistan Guilhem Molinie told Reuters. "If we don't have the guarantee that treating patients coming from both sides of conflict is respected by all parties in the conflict, we cannot continue to do that in Afghanistan, but potentially all over the world," he said.
In July, the MSF hospital in Kunduz suffered from a "violent armed intrusion," when heavily armed men from the Afghan Special Forces entered its compound, shooting in the air. They "physically assaulted" three MSF staff members and tried to arrest three patients, threatening a staff member at gunpoint in the process, the organization said.