US troops use vehicle to force gate at bombed Afghan hospital

Intrusion, occurred despite an agreement made between MSF and the joint investigation team, spokesperson said


Afp October 16, 2015
PHOTO: THE GUARDIAN

KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN: 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.

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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.

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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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