Power and politics: New information on Kunduz bombing released

tsj column writers - power and politicsBy Zachary Toillion

New information about the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan has been released. The report released by investigators with Doctors Without Borders has found that the bombing of the hospital went on for an hour with the hospital calling NATO during the strike to beg them to stop the onslaught. After 18 different distress calls, a text message was sent back to the hospital that read “I’m sorry to hear that. I still do not know what happened.” The bombing continued for another 15 minutes.

According to multiple eyewitness interviews collected in the report, a manned gunship targeted people in the hospital who were trying to flee. The report also mentions hospital personnel that were shot and are currently being treated for injuries. The description of individuals fleeing the initial strike and being shot at is consistent with a military bombing maneuver known as “double tap,” where after a target is hit, the first people on the scene are killed shortly thereafter due to suspicion of affiliation with the first target. The United States has used this strategy many times, as evidenced in leaked videos.

The report disputes the contention by the U.S. government and president that the act was simply an accident. The hospital displayed multiple flags identifying it as a Doctors Without Borders hospital. It was identifiable because it was the only large building in the area with a power generator. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders had given both the Afghanistan and American military specific coordinates. The Pentagon has stated the casualties of the strike were “collateral damage.” This gives off the impression that the hospital was not targeted on purpose, a claim that is not true. The precision of the strikes on the building indicate that the building itself was the target and not a building that was hit due to close proximity to another target.

Kunduz, the city in which the hospital resides, has recently been a strategically critical point after the Taliban forces had taken over. Local forces in Afghanistan had previously told American allies that Taliban fighters had been seen entering the building. This is consistent with the Doctors Without Borders’ mission, which is the treatment of people in war zones, regardless of their ideology or side.

The Kunduz hospital bombing came just days after President Obama announced his decision to leave 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan until 2017. The decision comes roughly two years after leaving 5,500 American troops in Afghanistan until 2024, marking 23 years after the conflict began and making the War in Afghanistan the longest in American history.

Polling in Afghanistan has shown confusion among Afghans over why the United States is at war in their country. A poll conducted in 2011 by the International Council on Security and Development found that a staggering 92 percent of Afghans do not know what happened on September 11, 2001.

An investigation by the Department of Defense over the Kunduz hospital bombing is ongoing.

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