AP: U.S. Intelligence Analysts Knew Afghan Bombing Target Was a Hospital
American special operations analysts were fully aware that the Afghan site bombed on Oct 3 was a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders, according to a new report from The Associated Press. Those analysts reportedly knew about the hospital because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani to coordinate Taliban operations.
The special operations analysts had assembled a dossier that included maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance, according to a former intelligence official familiar with the material. The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons.
While there’s yet to be any public evidence justifying the airstrike, “[some U.S. analysts] concluded that the Pakistani, believed to have been working for his country’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, had been killed.” Still, General John Campbell, the U.S.’s top officer in Afghanistan, “has said the strike was a mistake.”
Doctors Without Borders has said that the strike killed 12 hospital staff and 10 patients, though those numbers may still rise. According to the humanitarian group’s official statement directly after the attack: “The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.”
With the new knowledge that “the hospital was intentionally targeted,” Doctors Without Borders president of the operational directorate, Meinie Nicolai, told the AP:
This would amount to a premeditated massacre. ... Reports like this underscore how critical it is for the Obama administration to immediately give consent to an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to find out how and why U.S. forces attacked our hospital.
Doctors without Borders admits to having treated wounded Taliban fighters, though it maintains that no weapons were allowed in and that no one fired from within. And while its still not known whether the commanders who launched the attack were aware of the status of their target, General Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee in the days following the attack, “To be clear, the decision ... was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command. A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”