Labour MEP: US airstrike on hospital might have breached international law and must be independently investigated

A Labour MEP told the European Parliament today that the US airstrike on an Afghan hospital was a potential breach of international law and must be investigated independently.

Twenty two civilians, including 12 medical staff and 10 patients were killed in the attack by a US gunship on a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Saturday. The US government has apologised for the attack, saying it was a mistake which they are now investigating.

Afzal Khan MEP, vice chair of the European Parliament security and defence committee, speaking on behalf of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Group, told MEPs the tragedy must not be ignored by the international community, and that, given the US Government had changed its story four times already, an independent investigation was needed.

He said:

“I extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who have tragically lost their lives in the attack in Kunduz – our thoughts are with their families. We pay tribute to the Doctors Without Borders staff, who bravely and selflessly worked as fighting raged in Kunduz over the past week.

“The hospital was clearly marked and the exact location of the hospital was communicated to all parties to the conflict. The S&D Group strongly condemn this attack.

“Given the seriousness of the harm and the gravity of the alleged legal violations, it is critical that there is a prompt, full and independent investigation to ensure maximum transparency and accountability, and that those responsible are brought to justice.

“The US has stated that this attack was a mistake, but they have now offered four different accounts, so there is a need for an independent inquiry.

“This attack has implications not only in Afghanistan, but for medical NGOs across the world. We have a responsibility to ensure that this type of tragedy does not happen again. We must act.”