American special forces knew they were bombing a hospital, according to the Associated Press. The bombings claimed the lives of 22 doctors, nurses and patients while wounding 37 others.
The US chose to move forward with the airstrike because they believed a Pakistani was holding heavy weapons in storage and using the hospital as a command center, according to the AP’s source who spoke on a condition of anonymity. However, no evidence has surfaced publicly suggesting a Pakistani died in the attack, and Doctors without Borders, the international organization that ran the hospital, says none of its staff was Pakistani.
Doctors without Borders has acknowledged that it treated wounded Taliban fighters at the Kunduz hospital in accordance with their standard practice, but it insists no weapons were allowed in. Afghans who worked at the hospital have told the AP that no one was firing from within.
The U.S. airplane made five separate strafing runs over an hour, directing heavy fire on the main hospital building, which contained the emergency room and intensive care unit. Surrounding buildings were not struck, they said. This was not a stray shell, an error of judgement in a fierce fire-fight. There was no fog of war. Typically, pilots flying air support missions have maps showing protected sites such as hospitals and mosques. If commanders concluded that enemies were operating from a protected site, they would follow procedures designed to minimize civilian casualties. That would generally mean surrounding a building with troops, not blowing it to bits from the air.
MSF President Meinie Nicolai said the new details suggest that the hospital was intentionally targeted.
"This would amount to a premeditated massacre... Reports like this underscore how critical it is for the Obama administration to immediately give consent to an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to find out how and why US forces attacked our hospital...[staff] reported a calm night and that there were no armed combatants, nor active fighting in or from the compound prior to the airstrikes.”
A US tank has forced its way into the shell of the Afghanistan hospital destroyed in an airstrike 11 days ago, prompting warnings that the US military may have destroyed evidence in a potential war crimes investigation. “Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear,” MSF said.