Pakistani operative was using MSF hospital in Afghanistan as Taliban command post: report

Published: October 16, 2015
The US military took responsibility on Tuesday for the air strike on the hospital in Kunduz . PHOTO: AFP

The US military took responsibility on Tuesday for the air strike on the hospital in Kunduz . PHOTO: AFP

US special operations analysts believed the MSF hospital in Kunduz which was destroyed by a US military attack was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity, according to the Associated Press.

A US air strike on an MSF hospital had killed at least 22 patients and Doctors Without Borders staff and left many others seriously wounded, days after Taliban insurgents overran the northern Afghan city. The US had initially said the attack was to protect US troops engaged in a firefight and has since said it was a mistake.

Read: MSF demands international probe into deadly Kunduz air strike

According to a former intelligence official, the special operations analyst had assembled a document containing maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance. The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons.

Further, the former intelligence official said that some US analysts considered the strike to be justified as the Pakistani operative had been killed in the attack. The analysts believe he was working for the Inter-Service Intelligence directorate.

Read: US not leaving Afghanistan, says Pentagon

However, no evidence has publically been shared to support Pakistan’s involvement or the death of the Pakistani who is supposed to be working with the Taliban.

Top US officer in Afghanistan, General John Campbell, has since said the strike was a mistake but he has not explained how the strike happened or who gave final approval for it. He has also called for all US personnel in Afghanistan to be retrained on the rules governing the circumstances under which strikes are acceptable.

President Barack Obama has apologised and ordered a full investigation into the incident. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said, “Questions about what the Defense Department knew about the clinic and whether it was communicated to personnel operating the gunship would be part of the Pentagon’s investigation.”

Read: Medical charity MSF leaves Afghan city after fatal airstrike

Doctors Without Borders has condemned the bombing as a war crime. The organisation says the strike killed 12 hospital staff and 10 patients and it insists that no gunmen or weapons were in the building. They have called for an international probe into the bombing.

Doctors Without Borders officials said the US 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.

Meinie Nicolai, president of the operational directorate of Doctors Without Borders said, “What the new details suggest is that the hospital was intentionally targeted, killing at least 22 patients and MSF staff. This would amount to a premeditated massacre.”

This article originally appeared on The Japan Times

US troops use vehicle to force gate at bombed Afghan hospital

US troops drove a military vehicle through the gates of an Afghan hospital hit this month in a deadly air strike, in an incident that Doctors Without Borders said Friday may have damaged evidence relating to the attack.

The armoured personnel carrier forced its way through the metal gate of the compound in Kunduz on Thursday afternoon and damaged the barrier, apparently unaware that Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff including country director Guilhem Molinie were at the hospital, an AFP reporter saw.

Read: In policy reversal, Obama slows pace of US troop withdrawal in Afghanistan

The US delegation began negotiating with several foreign MSF doctors, insisting upon being allowed into the hospital as part of their investigation into the catastrophic October 3 strike that killed at least 24 people.

The discussions lasted for around an hour and a half, with the troops allowed to enter only after laying down their arms.

An MSF spokesperson confirmed the intrusion, adding it occurred “despite an agreement made between MSF and the joint investigation team that MSF would be given notice before each step of the procedure involving the organisation’s personnel and assets”.

“Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear for the MSF team,” she said.

Read: America’s 14 years in the Afghan quagmire

A NATO spokesperson said: “We are aware of the incident and are looking into what happened.”

MSF has called for an impartial investigation into the strike on its hospital by the US, which killed at least 14 staff and 10 patients, with nine others still unaccounted for.

The attack caused global revulsion and caused MSF to close the hospital’s trauma centre, seen as a lifeline in a war-battered region with scant medical care.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • PrakashG
    Oct 16, 2015 - 10:55AM

    Looks like Nawaz Sharif’s US visit isn’t going to be very pleasant one.Recommend

  • Haider
    Oct 16, 2015 - 10:59AM

    Pakistan needs to work more on education to eradicate extremism in our society…Pakistani man involved doesnt mean Pakistani military or govt involved….So trolls dont give vague comments…Recommend

  • sam
    Oct 16, 2015 - 11:16AM

    So whose word matters more.. i guess MSF. The habit of finding reasons to justify such acts cannot be condoned. It required a AC airship’s 30 minute attack on a MSF hospital to take out one agent? Civilian damage was worth it? Was the world fighting Iron Man? What a joke.Recommend

  • Cynic Waheed
    Oct 16, 2015 - 11:33AM

    Topi drama story by US before PMs visit to put pressure – How apt! Recommend

  • Acorn Guts
    Oct 16, 2015 - 12:20PM

    They were in a right mess to begin with but I thought they’d do better with the cover up story.

    Attack on the hospital was an intelligence mistake and one they should be ashamed of.Recommend

  • ih
    Oct 16, 2015 - 1:13PM

    ‘Usual suspects” Liked the famed dialogue in film Casablanca. Convenient way to justify attack on hospital run by Doctors without borders. Even than it is against geneva convention. So far cover up has failed.Recommend

  • Oct 16, 2015 - 1:19PM

    First us journal say,, it was a mistake,,, Obama accepted mistake andseek apology after saying sorry infront of camera,, now some idiots US security officers covering mistakes accusing Pakistan,,,,, reality is,,, America failed to bring peace in Afghanistan after passing 12 years, Recommend

  • Sazi
    Oct 16, 2015 - 6:40PM

    Pakistan is the most honest and peace loving country in the whole wide world. Our operative in the hospital was only helping with cleaning bed pans. This was part of the broader humanity services Pakistanis deliver free of charge all over the world.
    Maybe Switzerland and Norway should learn some lessons from us.Recommend

  • goldconsumer
    Oct 16, 2015 - 7:33PM

    So the word “weapons of mass destruction” is outdated..Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Oct 16, 2015 - 9:52PM

    @Acorn Guts:
    “Attack on the hospital was an intelligence mistake and one they should be ashamed of.”

    Earlier, I thought so also and have even commented on the same lines in my earlier comment.

    However, it has come to light now, that the attack lasted for over one hour. This surely indicates that US was facing retaliatory fire from inside the hospital. Talibans were there inside the hospital and were fighting back and firing back at US forces. If there were no talibans inside the hospital, US attack would have been over with one missile firing and surely would not have lasted for over one hour. Recommend

  • Sandip
    Oct 17, 2015 - 1:34AM

    @Acorn Guts: Don’t worry, they are pretty ashamed. Do you know the reason why? Because they have allowed snakes to be duping them again and again, all this while.
    One thing I can assure you they will just not be ashamed of – the next salala.Recommend

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