UPDATE Afghanistan: Medical charity says 9 killed in airstrike


-9 dead, 37 wounded after US bombing; UN condemns attack


By Zabihullah Tamanna

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan health official has said a U.S. air strike early Saturday morning in the northern city of Kunduz has killed and wounded dozens of people.

Although the country’s interior ministry said Taliban militants were targeted, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) said nine of its workers died in the incident.

“It is with deep sadness that we confirm so far the death of nine MSF during the bombing last night of MSF’s hospital in Kunduz,” the charity tweeted.

It added that 37 people were seriously wounded, of whom 19 were MSF staff.

In a statement MSF added that 105 patients and their carers were in the hospital and over 80 international and national staff were present when the attack occurred.

U.S. forces confirmed that a strike “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” Col. Brian Tribus said in a statement.

A statement released by U.S. embassy in Kabul described it as a “tragic incident”.

“U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital have killed tens of people; the hospital building was partially damaged,” said Saad Mukhtar, chief of Kunduz health department, speaking to Anadolu Agency.

Nicholas Haysom, the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan said: “I condemn in the strongest terms the tragic and devastating air strike on the Medecins sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz early this morning, which resulted in the deaths and injury of medical personnel, patients and other civilians”

The interior ministry said Taliban militants had taken position in the hospital compound and were firing on Afghan forces at the time of the attack.

“Afghan security forces launched a clearing operation on hospital last night where tens of militants had positioned,” said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the ministry.

“The enemies of peace and stability use civilian homes and fire on Afghan forces from time to time,” he said.

Sediqqi added that Afghan forces had transferred about 70 MSF staff to a safe zone during the operation.

Kunduz city has been at the center of intense fighting between Taliban insurgents and government forces, backed up by international air strikes.