There has been fierce fighting in and around Kunduz in recent days, as NATO-backed Afghan forces seek to oust Taliban militants, who seized control of the city Monday. The U.S. military has carried out several airstrikes in the city this week.
In a statement, Doctors Without Borders, which is also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said that its trauma center in Kunduz came under “sustained bombing,” and was very badly damaged. At the time of the bombing, the hospital had 105 patients and their caretakers, and more than 80 international and Afghan staff, it added.
“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” said Bart Janssens, MSF director of operations.
“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased. We urge all parties to respect the safety of health facilities and staff,” he added.
NATO forces spokesman U.S. Army Col. Brian Tribus, said in a statement, cited by the Associated Press, that U.S. forces launched an airstrike in the city at 2:15 a.m. local time.
“The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility,” he added. “This incident is under investigation.”
Doctors Without Borders said that it had treated 394 wounded since fighting began in the city Monday. The organization said it did not have full casualty figures from the incident, as its staff members were treating the wounded.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters that U.S. airstrikes targeted the hospital and had killed patients, doctors and nurses. None of its fighters was a patient in the hospital at the time of the attack, the militant group said.