Damage at the Kunduz hospital after an apparent U.S. airstrike. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was badly damaged Saturday after being hit by what appears to have been a U.S. airstrike. At least 19 people were killed, including 12 hospital staff members, and dozens were wounded. The Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar, was reportedly among the dead, according to The New York Times.

In a statement, the United States military confirmed that an airstrike occurred at 2:15 a.m., saying that it targeted individuals “who were threatening the force” and that “there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”

From The New York Times:

The airstrike set off fires that were still burning hours later, and a nurse who managed to climb out of the debris described seeing colleagues so badly burned that they had died.

“A few are still missing, they might have been buried in the rubble,” he said, declining to give his name because employees of Doctors Without Borders are not allowed to speak to reporters without authorization.

President Ashraf Ghani’s office released a statement Saturday evening saying that Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, had apologized for the strike. In a statement, however, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said only that a “full investigation into the tragic incident” was underway.

Airstrikes resulting in civilian casualties have caused tensions verging on hostility between the Afghan government and the United States for years. The former president, Hamid Karzai, was often in the uncomfortable position of explaining to his countrymen why Afghanistan’s biggest ally was killing innocent Afghans.

Mr. Ghani has been largely spared such confrontations since taking power last year. Although the United States military has kept up a steady stream of airstrikes, it has mostly targeted small groups and there have been far fewer mistakes.

The strike on the hospital Saturday came as the United States, for the first time since it began withdrawing most of its soldiers from Afghanistan, has begun to play a sustained and active role in the fight there. It is trying to support Afghan troops overwhelmed by the Taliban in the northern province of Kunduz.

Read the full article here.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald notes that this strike …

… comes days after the Saudi-led coalition bombed a wedding in Yemen that killed more than 130 people. After days of silence from the U.S. Government – which has actively participated from the start in the heinous bombing of Yemen – Ambassador Power finally acknowledged the wedding massacre, but treated it like some natural disaster that has nothing to do with the U.S.: “Terrible news from Yemen of killing of innocent civilians & aid workers. Urgently need pol solution to crisis,” she tweeted.

Her accompanying statement claimed that “the United States has no role in the targeting decisions made by the Coalition in Yemen,” but yesterday, the Saudi Foreign Minister told CBS News that “We work with our allies including the United States on these targets.” There’s no dispute that the U.S. has lavished the Saudis with all sorts of weapons and intelligence as it carries out its civilian-massacring attacks on Yemen.

“This last week has been a particularly gruesome illustration of continuous U.S. conduct under the War on Terror banner, including under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who celebrates himself for “ending two wars” (in the same two countries where the U.S. continues to drop bombs). The formula by now is clear: bombing whatever countries it wants, justifying it all by reflexively labeling their targets as “terrorists,” and then dishonestly denying or casually dismissing the civilians they slaughter as “collateral damage.” If one were to construct a list of all the countries in the world based on their credibility to condemn Russia for using this exact rhetorical template in Syria, the U.S. would literally be last on that list.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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