US airstrike hits hospital in battle-ravaged Kunduz, kills three

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At least three people were dead and 30 unaccounted for after a US airstrike hit a hospital Saturday in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, officials said.

“We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” said Bart Janssens, director of operations for the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders.

He said more than 30 people were missing after the trauma centre was hit several times during sustained bombing.

The group did not have full casualty counts yet. It said the three people confirmed dead were all staff members.

“The US forces conducted an airstrike near the facility at 2:15 am local time (9:45 GMT Friday) on October 3 against individuals threatening the force,” said Sernando Estreooa, spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

“A nearby hospital may have been damaged due to the strike. The incident is under investigation,” he said.

Doctors Without Borders has been working at full capacity since fighting broke out Monday in Kunduz city, which was overtaken by Taliban militants. It had treated nearly 400 wounded people in the city during the week.

“When the aerial attack occurred this morning, we had 105 patients and their caretakers in the hospital and over 80 international and national staff present,” the group’s online statement said.

The Taliban captured the startegic provincial capital Monday, and government forces have been trying to re-take it with the help of US and coalition forces.

The US military has unleashed several airstrikes in the city, where Taliban fighters were still holding out against Afghan troops.

“None of our fighters was a patient in the hospital at the time of the attack,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

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