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Last Saturday, in the early hours of the morning, a hospital in northern Afghanistan was attacked by American aircraft. By the end of it, 12 medical staff and 10 patients were killed. Now, the aid organization that was running the hospital, Doctors Without Borders, is calling for an independent inquiry into the attack.
Joanne Liu, international president of Doctors Without Borders, said it would be dangerous precedent to simply write this tragedy off as "collateral damage" or a "mistake." Liu said it could allow future hospital attacks like this to be carried out with minimal consequences. That's why she is calling on the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to launch an independent investigation into the events of that day. That group was established under the Geneva Conventions, international treaties that set rules against the killing and torturing of civilians in times of war.
For its part, the U.S. military has said the attack was a mistake, though it did go through the proper channels of protocol. General John F. Campbell, the top commander for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, testified before a Senate panel, saying the hospital was "mistakenly struck," but conceded that the decision was "within the U.S. chain of command."
Doctors Without Borders has said an internal investigation within the U.S. military is simply not enough. The group wishes to see an independent investigation and decide on next steps from there. Liu emphasized that the military was well aware of the hospital's GPS location, information which was allegedly confirmed just days before the attack. Even after calling military officials in Kabul and Washington, the bombing continued for 30 minutes.
UN says Afghan hospital bombing may be war crime (aljazeera.com)
"The suspected US-led air strike on a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people, including 12 members of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was "inexcusable" and possibly criminal, the UN's human rights chief has said, as the Pentagon ordered an investigation into the deadly raid."
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