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Photos: The aftermath of the US attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital

Médecins Sans Frontières/Andrew Quilty
After the attacks.
By Thu-Huong Ha
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Last month (Oct. 3), the US bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, killing at least 30. The military called the destruction  “collateral damage.”

In an internal review released by MSF yesterday (Nov. 5), the organization’s international president Joanne Liu described the tragic scene, writing, ”Patients burned in their beds, medical staff were decapitated and lost limbs, and others were shot by the circling AC-130 gunship while fleeing the burning building.”

Further, the review says: ”A series of multiple, precise and sustained airstrikes targeted the main hospital building, leaving the rest of the buildings in the MSF compound comparatively untouched.”

Satellite images illustrate the point:

Before the attack

Courtesy Médecins Sans Frontières
Satellite image of hospital area before the attack, on June 21, 2015.

After the attack

Courtesy Médecins Sans Frontières
Satellite image of hospital area after the attack, on Oct. 8, 2015.

The Taliban had taken over the surrounding area on Sept. 28, according to the review. The MSF emailed the hospital’s GPS coordinates to the US Department of Defense, Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense, and US army in Kabul the following day to ensure the hospital’s protection, which is guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions. The organizations confirmed they had received them.

Yet on the morning of Oct. 3, bombing of the main building started, and despite 17 calls from the hospital within an hour to stop the strikes, they went on. Since the attacks, the hospital has remained closed.

In October, MSF called for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, a body set up by the Geneva Conventions in 1991, which has never been used. The body needs the permission of the US and Afghanistan governments to act—on Oct. 7, the IHFFC sent a letter to both parties, but has not received word.

Alongside the review, MSF released a series of photos, including captions.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Dan Sermand
At the time of the airstrike, the operating theatres were in use – there were patients on the tables being attended to by surgeons and anesthetists. In this operating theatre, you can see the hole in the back wall from a bomb and the shrapnel damage. The bed is barely recognizable near the window.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Victor J. Blue
A man wearing a surgical mask walks amongst the debris of the damaged and burnt-out trauma centre on Oct. 14, 2015.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Victor J. Blue
Debris litters the floor as sunlight shines through the damaged roof of a scorched corridor.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Victor J. Blue
A hole where a missile hit is seen above the destroyed window of the outpatient department.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Victor J. Blue
The charred chasis of an MSF four-wheel-drive vehicle sits in the yard outside the trauma centre.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Andrew Quilty
The remains of a bed frame in a room in the eastern wing of the main outpatient department building.
Courtesy Médecins Sans Frontières
An MSF staff member walks through the grounds of the Kunduz trauma centre, hours after it was badly damaged from sustained bombing on Oct. 3.

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