Death toll rises to 42 in Afghan hospital bombing

Death toll rises to 42 in Afghan hospital bombing

Doctors Without Borders is raising the death toll from the October bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by the U.S. military.

The medical charity, also known by its French acronym, MSF, now says at least 42 died.

“Previously MSF had reported an approximate death toll of at least 30 people, but after methodical review of MSF records and family claims, as well as patient, staff and family testimonies, the organization confirms today the death toll has risen to 42,” the organization said in a statement over the weekend.

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The new total includes 14 staff members, 24 patients and four relatives who helped with nursing.

Separately, a United Nations report released over the weekend found the death toll at the hospital was 30. But that report cited MSF’s previous estimate and acknowledged the toll could be higher.

“At the time of writing, the excavation of the collapsed portions of the MSF hospital was still ongoing and additional mortal remains may be exhumed,” the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report said.

The U.N. report dealt with total civilian casualties during the fight for Kunduz, which was overrun by Taliban forces. The report found that 289 civilians were killed in Kunduz from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13 during the fighting. The majority of the deaths could not be attributed to a single party, the report said.

The U.S.-led coalition did not respond to UNAMA’s requests for information on the hospital bombing, according to the report.

“To date, the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission has declined to respond to specific UNAMA requests for information about the operation, stating they expected these ‘will be answered by the various NATO/RS, US national, and Afghan inquiries,’” the report said.

In late November, the Pentagon summarized the findings of its own investigation that found the bombing was primarily the result of human error.

On Oct. 3, U.S. forces carried out an airstrike intended for a government building believed to be controlled by the Taliban, Army Gen. John Campbell has said. But the electronic systems on the aircraft malfunctioned, and the crew relied on a description of the target, which the hospital building “roughly matched,” Campbell said.

Multiple military officials have been suspended, pending further investigation.

When announcing the results of the investigation, Campbell pledged it was “thorough and unbiased.”

But the U.N. report recommends an independent investigation.

“While acknowledging the public summary of the internal United States-led investigation and welcoming the release of the key findings of the NATO Resolute Support Mission [Civilian Casualty Assessment Team] investigation, UNAMA nevertheless continues to recommend an independent, impartial, prompt, transparent and effective investigation of the attack against the MSF hospital,” the report says. “The information available publicly does not indicate that the investigations carried out thus far satisfy all criteria recommended by UNAMA, in particular in relation to the independence and effectiveness of the investigations.”