KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Oct. 20 (UPI) — The Pentagon confirmed U.S. and Afghan troops riding in an armored vehicle rammed the locked gate of a Doctors Without Borders hospital that had been bombed in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
The incident occurred Thursday as the joint force arrived at the scene to conduct a “a structural integrity assessment” of the facility, which had been damaged nearly two weeks earlier in U.S. airstrikes that killed at least 22 people, including 12 staff members with Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières.
“They did it. They shouldn’t have. They are going to make it right,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters, noting the team arrived to the surprise of MSF staff, who were “understandably not happy.”
Davis said the team did not know hospital staff were on site at the time and that theyordered their Afghan counterparts to ram the gate “in the interest of safety” due to the persisting threat of attack in Kunduz. He promised the gate would be fixed.
The Guardian quoted a Friday statement by MSF that said “the unannounced and forced entry damaged the gate to the property, potentially destroyed evidence, and caused stress and fear for the MSF team that had arrived earlier in the day to visit the hospital.”
MSF says the entry “occurred despite an agreement made between MSF and the joint investigation team that MSF would be provided advance notice before each step of the process involving the MSF’s personnel and assets.”
The United States, Afghanistan and NATO are each conducting separate investigations into the Oct. 3 airstrike, which was requested by Afghan forcesfighting to regain Kunduz from the Taliban.
MSF has called for an independent investigation into the airstrikes, which it says persisted for more than an hour despite pleas by medical staff, completely destroying the hospital and depriving hundreds of thousands of people in northern Afghanistan of emergency trauma care.
U.S. officials earlier this month assumed full responsibility for the strike, saying the United States would compensate victims and order coalition forces in the country toundergo rules of engagement training.