The international medical organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) called for an independent investigation into Saturday's attack. The hospital, accommodating some 200 people, was bombed, leaving at least 19 dead, including three children, 37 injured and dozens missing.
The US military admitted it conducted an airstrike in Kunduz at around the same time — just after 02:00 a.m. local time. Christopher Stokes spoke to Sputnik about the terrible incident.
“We had a large number of medical international staff and Afghan colleagues present in the hospital at the time. This hospital has been running for four years, we had over 105 patients in the hospital and around 2 a.m. local time a plane was heard going over the hospital and then the main building where we have the intensive care unit was hit. They were hit several times and there were four or five independent hits on the hospital. This resulted in the death of twelve of our staff members including four doctors and ten patients, of which three were children.”
Talking about the bombing Stokes said, “This attack lasted nearly an hour. That is why we completely condemn this view that somehow this was perhaps collateral damage. This was a repeated strike against a clearly identified hospital. We had sent the exact coordinates of the hospital to all the parties: the Afghan opposition, Afghan government and the US Forces.”
“We were telling them that there was an airplane bombing our hospital and that it had to stop. But it continued.”
“We don’t know for sure but everything points to the US flying those planes. We were talking to US representatives at that time but the attacks did not stop and that is completely unacceptable.”
He stressed that in conflict areas the international medical organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) always sends the precise GPS coordinates of the medical structure to all sides of the conflict to guarantee the safety and security of the patients.
Talking about the intensity of the shock and terror the staff experienced, Stokes said, “Some of our staff was actually operating at the time and one of the patients who died, died because he was on the operating table. The building was hit and was on fire so the medical staff had to leave him there.”
He said that in the entire north east of Afghanistan this was the only trauma center available and it was free of charge. People came there with injuries ranging from traffic accidents to war traumas.
“Before we return we need a proper explanation as to what happened. This is a grave breach of international humanitarian law. There is no excuse for killing patients in their beds in a clearly identified hospital.”
Stokes said, “We have demanded that the American authorities provide us with an explanation and we have made our complaint very public so they are fully aware of the need for them to come clean on this.”
If upon investigation the events transpired like Stokes described them then this incident would be a war crime.
“If these events are confirmed and if the people responsible knew that this was a hospital then it qualifies as a war crime.”
He added that this needs to be known widely and publically so that there is recognition of responsibility and such a terrible tragedy never happens again.