Adding to the questions surrounding last weekend’s calamitous US attack against a Kunduz hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, a strike which killed 22 civilians, including 12 staff members, it has since been discovered that troops from the Afghan Special Forces attacked the same hospital in early July.
In a Doctors Without Borders statement from the time, the aid group condemned the attack, in which the forces stormed the hospital, “physical assaulted three MSF staff members,” and “began shooting in the air.” They threatened to arrest three patients, and threatened a staff member at gunpoint during the raid, before leaving without any prisoners.
The revelation becomes all the more important following the revelation that it was Afghan forces who initially requested the US attack the hospital, and is raising speculation that ongoing Afghan hostility toward the site played a role in the request for “air support” by attacking it.
The Afghan military has been hostile to internationally-run hospitals throughout the US occupation, complaining about their willingness to accept patients regardless of political affiliation. This often makes them targets for such “arrest raids,” and recent Taliban gains in the region around Kunduz likely already had Afghan forces looking to degrade basic infrastructure in the area, including such hospitals.
The US maintains the attack was “a mistake” and that they didn’t know the site was a hospital while they were attacking it. The US warplane responsible for the attack, a converted cargo plane full of guns, had no real targeting systems and had to rely on visual identification for what they attack, which prevented them from telling the site was a large, well-documented hospital.
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