May 2, 2016
The survivors of a fatal US airstrike on a hospital have called for those responsible to stand trial, dismissing Pentagon’s recent probe that the bombardment did not amount to a war crime.
“This report is an absolute insult to the victims of MSF hospital in Kunduz,” said Esmatullah Esmat, who works as a doctor for the charity Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF.
“We do not feel safe after this report, if we go to work, we fear the hospital might come under attack another time,” he said.
“We are very upset and demoralized… We are not satisfied, and we will not go back to work as long as justice is not ensured to our people,” Esmat added.
Last Friday, the Pentagon published a report of its inquiry into the aerial bombardment of the MSF hospital in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz last October.
It said US military personnel would not face war crimes charges over the attack, which claimed the lives of 42 people.
US Central Command commander General Joseph Votel said in a statement that during the attack, military forces did not know they were striking a medical facility.
The attack on the hospital triggered global outrage, and forced President Barack Obama to offer an apology on behalf of the US military.
“They should be publicly put on trial. This was a deliberate bombardment by the American forces, and we are not satisfied that they have said this was not a war crime. This is unacceptable for us,” said another survivor, identified only as Hamdullah.
The 27-year-old man, who worked in the laundry at the hospital, lost his uncle in the attack.
“It’s a joke that the US said the incident was not a war crime,” said Zahidullah, who worked as a cleaner at the hospital and lost a cousin in the strike. “What we saw that night is difficult for us to express in words.”
The 24-year-old man also called for indemnities to be paid to the victims and their families, and for adequate medical care to be provided.
Witnesses have told MSF that the US airstrike precisely targeted the main central block of the facility, where the intensive care unit was located, and that many of the patients were burnt to death in their beds.
Afghanistan is gripped by insecurity 15 years after the United States and its allies attacked the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The war removed the Taliban from power but insecurity is still rampant in the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops.
The Taliban militant group recently announced the start of its annual spring offensive against Afghan security forces and US-led foreign forces in the country.
The Taliban promised “large scale attacks on enemy positions… tactical attacks against enemy strongholds and assassination of enemy commanders in urban centers.”