MSF Denies Taliban Were Firing from its Hospital

MSF Denies Taliban Were Firing from its Hospital MSF Denies Taliban Were Firing from its Hospital

Medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres denied that Taliban fighters were firing from its hospital at Afghan and NATO forces before a suspected US airstrike killed at least 19 people in a battle to oust the insurgents from an Afghan city.

The northern city of Kunduz has been the scene of fierce fighting since the Taliban captured it almost a week ago. Afghan security forces fought their way into Kunduz four days ago, but battles continue in many places, Reuters reported.

The aid group has said an airstrike, probably carried out by US-led coalition forces, killed 19 staff and patients on Saturday in a hospital it runs in Kunduz, leaving 37 wounded.

The US military said it conducted an airstrike “in the vicinity” of the hospital, as it targeted Taliban insurgents who were directly firing on US military personnel.

The US government promised a full investigation into the incident as the UN human rights chief said the bombing could amount to a war crime.

In a statement, US President Barack Obama offered condolences to the victims of what he called “the tragic incident”.

In Kabul, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said Taliban fighters had attacked the hospital and were using the building “as a human shield”. But the medical aid group denied this.

“The gates of the hospital compound were closed all night so no one that is not staff, a patient or a caretaker was inside the hospital when the bombing happened,” Medecins Sans Frontieres said in a statement on Sunday.

Witnesses said patients were burned alive in the crowded hospital after the airstrike in the early hours of Saturday.

Taliban fighters in Kunduz were still holding out against Afghan troops on Sunday, despite government claims to have taken control of the area.