A recent air strike in the Afghan city of Kunduz, currently held by the Taliban, destroyed a fully functional hospital and killed 22 people. 180 staff and patients were in the hospital at the time of the air strike.
Although the United States has not claimed responsibility yet, Doctors Without Borders has demanded an investigation into the strike. They have declared it a war crime, which the United Nations has also said would amount to a war crime, pending investigation.
The Doctors Without Borders, an international medical organization, operated the hospital in the northern city until the air strike, after which the hospital was no longer functional, leaving thousands without access to medical services. According to certain members of the Afghan government, Taliban forces had taken control of the hospital and were using it like a “human shield.” Doctors Without Borders maintains that statement is absolutely untrue, and that there were no Taliban forces in the hospital when the air strike happened.
President Barack Obama expressed his condolences for what he called a regrettable accident, but an internal investigation by the Pentagon is under way. The United States government has acknowledged that they did have a gunship in the area proving support for American special forces units as they help NATO trained Afghan soldiers retake the city, which was captured by Taliban forces recently. Representatives from Doctors Without borders want to see an independent investigation.
The loss of the hospital will serve as a serious blow to the city, especially if the Taliban retain control for much longer. Locals have said that the city is unlivable, as bodies rot in the street and food becomes increasingly hard to find. Recapturing the city is an important political goal for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, and will be an important challenge for the Afghan military, especially now that most international troops have been withdrawn.