February 18, 2016
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN—A Sweden-based charity has condemned a deadly raid it says the Afghan army staged against one of its health facilities in central Afghanistan.
Three people, including two patients and a personal caretaker were killed in the overnight attack in the Tangi Saidan area of the Wardak province, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) said Thursday.
A provincial government spokesman, Torialay Hemat, told VOA he knew about a raid Afghan security forces conducted late Wednesday that killed four insurgents and wounded two more, while another was taken into custody. But he said he was not aware of any intrusion into a health facility in the area.
The attack constituted a gross violation of humanitarian principles and the Geneva Convention that all actors of a conflict have to respect, said Jorgen Holmstrom, country director of SCA.
“Medical facilities and medical staff are to provide treatment to anyone in need and patients are to be granted safety according to humanitarian law. SCA is a neutral party in the military conflict that prevails in Afghanistan,” he said.
A spokesman for the charity, Khalid Fahim, told VOA that the clinic has been closed following the deadly intrusion, insisting the patients under treatment at SCA clinics have the right to be protected. But, relief operations elsewhere in Afghanistan are continuing, he said.
“Of course, it [the attack] has a psychological negative impact on the people who are seeking medical assistance in the health facilities. Everyone has the right to seek medical assistance and we have the obligation to provide the medial assistance without any discrimination,” said Fahim, saying provincial authorities are aware of the incident.
The SCA has been working in 13 of the 34 Afghanistan provinces for more than 30 years, delivering services in healthcare, education and rural development sectors.
Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday its has suspended relief operations in the eastern Ghazni province after unknown “armed groups” captured five of its local staff.
An ICRC spokesman Ahmad Rameen, told VOA the captives are “safe and in good health,” but refused to provide further details.