Staff from Afghan TV station killed in Kabul bombing

 
 
  • Tolo TV, a commercial broadcast in Afghanistan that runs a 24 hour news channel, says that six of its staff were killed in a suicide bombing that targeted a minibus in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday evening. 

  • An interior ministry spokesperson told NBC News that four of the seven people killed were women and that up to 27 people had been wounded. 

  • The Afghan Taliban has previously threatened Tolo. 

  • Bob Dietz, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia programme director, said the attack was 'a direct assault on the very foundation of Afghan democracy' and said it highlighted the 'fragility of Afghan security under which journalists must operate'. *


MSF hospital bombing: Death toll updated to 42

What happened in Kunduz?

At around 2am on Saturday October 3rd, a U.S air strike hit a Médecins Sans Frontières trauma centre in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, killing 42 people. On October 7th, President Obama apologised to MSF for the incident, while on November 25th, General John Campbell said the tragedy was caused primarily by human error.  


MSF updates death toll

MSF said on December 12th that the number of people killed in the U.S airstrike on its facility in Kunduz in October had been updated to 42. The figure is made up of 24 patients, 14 MSF staff and 4 caretakers. 


The U.S military inquiry

On November 25th, the day before Thanksgiving, the Department of Defence detailed the findings a of report into the airstrike on the MSF facility in Kunduz.

General John Campbell, the commander of U.S forces in Afghanistan, said the tragedy was avoidable and was the result 'primarily of human error'. Fatigue and 'high operation tempo' were also found to have been factors contributing to the tragedy. 

Service personnel on board the AC-130 that carried out the strike were without essential information having left without a mission brief or a list of no-strike coordinates in the area.

Electronic communications on the aircraft failed and crew members misidentified the MSF facility as being a different compound thought to contain enemy combatants. 

...this misidentification continued throughout the remainder of the operation, even though there was some contradictory indicators. For example, once the aircraft returned to its original orbit, the aircraft’s grid location system correctly aligned with the NDS facility instead of the open field.

However, the crew remain fixated on the physical description of the facility, and at that point, did not rely on the grid coordinate. Also, the investigators found that the aircrew did not observe hostile activity at the MSF trauma center.
— Extract of Gen. Campbell's remarks

Gen. Campbell provided a timeline of events on the night of October 3rd.

The airstrike on the MSF facility begins.

An officer at Bagram airbase receives a call from MSF to say that their hospital is under attack.

The U.S. special operations commander realises the error but only after the AC-130 has finished firing.

 


MSF's response

MSF, responding to the U.S inquiry, said the report left it with more questions that answers. The organisation said it was 'shocking' that the AC-130 carried out an airstrike without access to a no-strike list and with malfunctioning communication systems.

MSF reiterated its call for an independent inquiry into the tragedy, which it said violated the rules of war. 

It appears that 30 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of people are denied life-saving care in Kunduz simply because the MSF hospital was the closest large building to an open field and “roughly matched” a description of an intended target.
— Christopher Stokes, MSF General Director

The latest developments

There are still many unanswered questions about what happened in the Afghan city of Kunduz on Friday night (October 2nd), when a U.S airstrike hit a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) trauma centre killing 10 patients and 14 MSF staff. A number of children were among the dead. The medical facility was the only one of its type in north eastern Afghanistan. 

Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to all of the civilians affected by this incident, their families, and loved ones.
— President Obama

President Obama called MSF's president Joanne Liu on October 7th to apologise for the incident. 

There are three ongoing probes into the incident (the DoD investigation, a NATO investigation and an Afghan investigation). 

At a State Department briefing on October 5th, spokesperson Mark Toner said that the Obama administration was satisfied that there was no need for a fourth, independent investigation into the tragedy as has been demanded by MSF.

 

I mean, frankly, I think we’ve proven over time that we can investigate incidents like these – like this, and as I said, hold anyone accountable who needs to be held accountable, and do it in such a way that’s transparent and, I think, credible.
— Mark Toner, State Department spokesperson


In a statement of his own on Saturday, President Ghani of Afghanistan offered his 'deep sorrow' over the airstrike but, unlike his predecessor on similar occasions, Mr. Ghani did not criticise, or even mention, U.S forces. 

The reality is the US dropped those bombs.
— MSF

MSF, unsatisfied with the lack of explanation from Washington DC and Kabul, said it was under the 'clear presumption' that a war crime had been committed.

The organisation also accused the U.S government of changing its story after General John Campbell, the commander of U.S forces in Afghanistan, said at a press conference on October 5th that Afghan troops had requested the airstrike after they came under fire. 

Their description of the attack keeps changing – from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government
— MSF

Testifying before the Senate's Armed Services Committee on October 6th, General John Campbell said that the MSF hospital was mistakenly struck following a U.S decision to provide air support to Afghan troops and U.S special ops who were battling Taliban fighters nearby. 

General Campbell said the aircraft involved was an AC-130. Citing ongoing investigations, the general could offer no explanations for what went wrong. 

MSF were unsatisfied with General Campbell's testimony and said that the bombing could not be 'brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war'. 

Following his testimony, sources told the New York Times that General Campbell believes U.S troops may have broken their rules of engagement in requesting the airstrike. 


Our original story (October 4th)

  • A Doctors Without Borders (MSF) trauma centre, the only one of its kind in Afghanistan's north east, was hit 'several times' during sustained bombing by U.S military aircraft on October 2nd according to the medical organisation. 

  • The U.S airstrikes have been supporting Afghan forces efforts to retake the city of Kunduz from the Taliban.

  • MSF says 12 of its staff and 10 patients were killed including 3 children who were in intensive care. 

  • A total of 37 people were seriously wounded, including 19 MSF staff.

  • MSF says that military officials in Kabul and Washington were made aware of the hospital's coordinates 'on multiple occasions' and claims that the air raids continued for more than 30 minutes after officials were informed that the hospital was being hit. 

  • A spokesman for U.S forces in Afghanistan said the incident was under investigation, admitting that an airstrike in Kunduz 'may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility'.

  • President Obama offered his condolences to those killed and injured, but said he would wait for the results of a Pentagon investigation before making a 'definitive judgement' as to what happened. 


At least 36 people killed in series of terror attacks in Kabul

  • 20 police cadets were killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Kabul Police Academy on Friday evening. 

  • Earlier on Friday at least 15 civilians were killed and hundreds were wounded after a truck bomb caused a huge blast in the centre of the Afghan capital. 

  • Also on Friday night, a foreign soldier was said to have been killed in an attack on a NATO base in Kabul.