US Intrusion Into Bombed Afghan Hospital Sparks War Crimes Cover-Up Fears

© AP Photo / Najim RahimChristopher Stokes, second left, the general director of Doctors Without Borders and his colleague stand as an Afghan National Army vehicle guards at the gate of its hospital after U.S. troops left the area in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015.
Christopher Stokes, second left, the general director of Doctors Without Borders and his colleague stand as an Afghan National Army vehicle guards at the gate of its hospital after U.S. troops left the area in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. - Sputnik International
Subscribe
US
India
Global
There are concerns the US military may have destroyed crucial evidence in a potential war crimes investigation after an American tank forced its way onto the site of the bombed Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Afghan staff react inside a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital after an air strike in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan in this October 3, 2015 - Sputnik International
MSF Urges Obama to Consent to Independent Investigation Into Kunduz Attack
The October 3 attack on the hospital, which was being run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), killed 10 patients and 12 staff members.

MSF released a statement saying they had been informed of the "intrusion" of the site by a US tank, with members of a joint US-NATO-Afghan team investigating the attack.

"Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear," MSF said.

MSF officials expressed their anger at the "forced entry", accusing investigators of violating an agreement that the charity "would be given notice before each step of the procedure involving the organization's personnel and assets."

US Reportedly Knew Site Was a Hospital

The news of the US and NATO-led team of investigators entering the site comes amid reports that US forces operating in the area at the time of the attack knew the facility was a hospital.

© AP Photo / Médecins Sans Frontières via APThe Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015
The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 - Sputnik International
The Doctors Without Borders hospital is seen in flames, after explosions in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015

According to a report by the Associated Press, an unnamed former intelligence officer said US officials were gathering intelligence on the hospital in the days leading up to the attack, over suspicions a Pakistani operative was using the site as a base.

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest, said on Thursday that he was "not aware" of the media reports and declined to comment on the motivation of the attack and who ordered the strike.

MSF has led a chorus of international condemnation of the US following the attack, which it labeled an "attack on the Geneva Conventions" and a potential war crime.

The charity says that US, coalition and Afghan officials had been thoroughly informed that the site was a hospital and have not been offered an explanation.

"We have received apologies and condolences, but this is not enough. We are still in the dark about why a well-known hospital full of patients and medical staff was repeatedly bombarded for more than an hour," MSF International President Dr. Joanne Liu said. "We need to understand what happened and why."

President Barack Obama - Sputnik International
Obama’s National Security Doctrine Wrecked by Kunduz Hospital Attack
US President Barack Obama has apologized for the attack, while General John F. Campbell, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan called the bombing a "mistake".

MSF has repeatedly said that the US and NATO forces can't be trusted to carry out a full and independent investigation into the incident and has set up on online petition calling on Obama to allow the Swiss-based International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to carry out an investigation into the attack.

Fears of War Crimes

The attack has also seen US forces accused of committing war crimes as a result of the bombing.

Legal experts have suggested that if it can be proven that the US knew the site was a hospital, then it could amount to war crimes.

Alternatively, if there is no evidence to suggest that Taliban fighters were using the hospital as a base — which has been rejected by MSF officials — then it is thought that the attack would also be classified as a war crime.

Thirdly, if US forces were certain that Taliban operatives were using the MSF medical center as a base, then they would have been obliged to inform the hospital of an imminent attack, with a failure to do so seen as a violation of war crimes.

MSF officials have confirmed that they were never notified that the hospital would be bombed and dismissed suggestions that the hospital was a secret base for insurgents. "Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the US airstrike," according to MSF General Director Christopher Stokes.

While officials in Washington are remaining tight lipped over the events leading up to the attack, speculation grows as to whether war crimes were in fact committed.

However, the US' failure to allow independent investigators to assess the circumstances of the attack, as well as media reports suggesting officials changed their story four times in the days following the fatal bombing have led to calls that the recent intrusion into the site is part of a cover-up.

Newsfeed
0
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
loader
Chats
Заголовок открываемого материала