Derechos | Equipo Nizkor
Hospital Raid by Afghan Forces Is Said to Kill at Least 3
Afghan security forces, possibly accompanied by NATO advisers, raided a hospital south of Kabul and abducted and then killed at least three men suspected of being insurgents, hospital officials and residents said on Thursday.
The raid began late Wednesday in the Day Mirdad district of Wardak Province, 100 miles from Kabul, the capital, at a hospital run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, an international aid agency. Initial reports differed about whether the units involved in the four-hour raid, whose members descended from helicopters, belonged to the Afghan Army or the police. The number of casualties was also not clear, with different accounts suggesting that between three and five people had been killed.
The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan denounced the raid, which it said the Afghan Army had conducted, as a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions.
"Medical facilities and medical staff are to provide treatment to anyone in need, and patients are to be granted safety according to humanitarian law," Jörgen Holmström, the group's country director, said in a statement. "We will further investigate this violation and let those responsible be held accountable."
Abdul Wali Noorzai, a spokesman for Wardak Province's police chief, said elite police units, who were possibly accompanied by Americans, had conducted the operation.
"Those killed in the hospital were all terrorists," Mr. Noorzai said, adding that he was "happy that they were killed."
A spokesman for the American-led NATO coalition denied involvement.
"At this point, we have no reports of any coalition operations near a hospital," said the spokesman, Col. Michael T. Lawhorn.
A senior official from the Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed that an elite police force had been responsible for an operation in the area targeting five Taliban members but rejected the suggestion that it had entered a hospital.
Dr. Wahidullah, who goes by only one name and was on duty at the 10-bed hospital, said by phone that helicopters had hovered over it all evening on Wednesday before the forces descended around 11 p.m. They climbed over the walls and handcuffed all the hospital staff members, including the midwife and ambulance driver, leaving them prone on the floor as the forces searched room by room asking for Taliban members, the doctor said.
Four patients, including a child, were at the hospital at the time of the raid, Dr. Wahidullah said, and the security forces took two of them, along with a patient's family member, marching them up a hill to a shop.
"They killed them with their bayonets and shot them. You can ask the eyewitnesses," the doctor said, adding that two of the members of the forces spoke English and seemed to be foreigners.
It was not immediately clear whether the men who were killed were insurgents, though residents said the area is dominated by the Taliban, who often bring their wounded fighters there for treatment.
"This is a hospital, we will treat anyone, be it soldiers or Taliban or infidels," Dr. Wahidullah said.
All sides have been accused of attacking hospitals during the long war in Afghanistan. One of the bloodiest episodes occurred last fall, when an American gunship attacked a hospital in the northern city of Kunduz run by Doctors Without Borders, leaving at least 42 people dead. Months earlier, the hospital had been stormed and searched by Afghan forces. A car bomb targeting a hospital in Logar Province in 2011 killed dozens and demolished the facility.
This week was not the first time a Swedish Committee hospital has been attacked. In 2009, also in Wardak Province, United States forces raided another hospital, tying up employees as they searched for Taliban fighters.
[Source: By Mujib Mashal, The New York Times, Kabul, 18Feb16]
War in Afghanistan & Iraq
|This document has been published on 22Feb16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|