Doctors Without Borders — also known as Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF — released an internal report on Thursday on the U.S.-led airstrikes that leveled the humanitarian organization's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, last month, killing at least 30 staff members and patients.
The report is a comprehensive review of what happened from inside the hospital in the days leading up to the attack and ends with the attack itself.
The attacks were carried out on the morning of Oct. 3. The first room to be hit was the ICU. Though it was 2 a.m., at least two surgeries were being performed at the time and staff were tending to several critically wounded patients in the ICU. According to the report, some staff and patients were killed in the first strike and some died in the subsequent fire. "Immobile patients in the ICU burned in their beds," the report stated.
The two patients who were undergoing surgery at the time of the attacks were among the dead, according to the report.
In the days leading up to the deadly airstrikes, Doctors Without Borders had confirmed the hospital's coordinates with both U.S. and Afghan military officials, according to both the report and the group's previous statements. While the hospital had been overloaded with patients from the fighting as the area was taken by Taliban combatants, the night of the attack was quiet, according to accounts in the report.
"No fighting was taking place around the hospital, no planes were overhead, no gunshots were reported, nor explosions in the vicinity of the hospital," the report states.
However, in the days following the airstrikes, Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that the strikes were requested by Afghan forces that were under fire.
Doctors Without Borders staff made several distress calls to both U.S. and Afghan officials while the facility was being bombed. The initial call was placed at 2:19 a.m. By 2:52 a.m. a reply from Resolute Support was received, saying, "I'm sorry to hear that, I still do not know what happened." The hospital staff sent another message, insisting the strikes stop, and were told, "I'll do my best, praying for you all."
Badly injured staff members fled the building including one nurse who was "covered head to toe in debris and blood with his left arm hanging from a small piece of tissue" and another who was bleeding out of his left eye. That's when staff say that gunfire hit them, most likely coming from a plane.
One MSF staff member described a patient in a wheelchair attempting to escape from the
inpatient department when he was killed by shrapnel from a blast. An MSF doctor suffered a
traumatic amputation to the leg in one of the blasts. He was later operated on by the MSF
team on a makeshift operating table on an office desk where he died. Other MSF staff
describe seeing people running while on fire and then falling unconscious on the ground. One
MSF staff member was decapitated by shrapnel in the airstrikes.
The attacks lasted just over an hour, and by 3:15 a.m., all bombing had stopped. In total, at least 30 people were killed. That includes 10 patients, 13 staff members, and another 7 bodies that were burned so badly that they have not been identified.
The hospital in Kunduz opened in 2011 and in the four years it was in operation, doctors performed more than 15,000 surgeries and more than 68,000 emergency patients were treated, according to the report.
On Oct. 17, Doctors Without Borders sent out a tweet calling on people to sign a petition that asks for President Obama to consent to an independent investigation of the bombing. On Thursday the humanitarian group tweeted, "We don't have view from cockpit or from within Afghan & US chain of command. We need a #IndependentInvestigation"
Read the whole report here:
Jessica Simeone is a news assignment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Simeone at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.