04 October 2015

More Freedom Bombs………

It looks like the US military launched an intense and sustained airstrike against a hospital in Kunduz, Afthanistan:
An airstrike apparently carried out by U.S. forces heavily damaged a charitable hospital in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 19 people — three of them reportedly children — in an incident that a senior U.N. official equated to a war crime.

The airstrike occurred before dawn when a Doctors Without Borders trauma center in war-torn Kunduz was struck while doctors were treating dozens of patients. Hospital officials said they were assaulted from the air for 30 to 45 minutes, resulting in a large fire that burned some patients to death in their beds. Among those killed were 12 of the charity group’s staff members, the group said.

“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” said Meinie Nicolai, the group’s president.

While the charity’s workers reported waves of bombs hitting their facility, the U.S.-led military coalition in Kabul issued a statement confirming one American airstrike that may have caused “collateral damage” to a “medical facility.” Authorities said it was launched against “insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. servicemembers” who had traveled to Kunduz to advise Afghan security forces.


It was unclear how close Taliban fighters may have been to the hospital Saturday or whether the U.S. military didn’t realize the building was a hospital. Afghan security officials said Taliban fighters had been pouring into the facility in recent days seeking treatment for gunshot wounds and other injuries.

The charity and other international organizations reacted with outrage, and the hospital’s management said it had repeatedly informed the U.S.-led coalition of the facility’s precise GPS coordinates over the past few months. The location of the hospital was last conveyed to the international coalition three days before the airstrike, officials added.


“This event is utterly tragic, inexcusable and, possibly, even criminal,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, adding that “if established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”

Jason Cone, executive director of Doctors Without Borders in the United States, said hospital officials in Kunduz immediately reached out to U.S. military officials when the airstrike occurred.

“The bombing continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed,” the organization said in a statement.

A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, said the strike appears to have been carried out by an AC-130 gunship, a heavily armed warplane.
I will make a point here: An AC-130, notwithstanding its bulk and lumbering appearance, is a precise weapon, arguably much more precise than guided bombs, if just because they engage at a fraction of the distance.

They hit what they were ordered to hit, and they did so for nearly an hour.

The only questions is whether their orders were an error, or if the the targeting was deliberate, either because MSF was treating members of the Taliban (a war crime by the US) or because the Taliban was using the hospital compound for military purposes (a war crime by the Taliban).

Rather unsurprisingly, MSF is demanding an independent investigation, but given the record of the US military on such matters, and the continuing cover-up of the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident, I would not hold my breath.

What actually happened is unclear at this time, but what is clear, and in fact is certain, is that this will be used by the Taliban for a long time as a recruiting tool.



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