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UN chief slams deadly Afghan hospital airstrikes

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UNITED NATIONS- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday strongly condemned airstrikes that killed medical staff and civilians in a hospital in north Afghanistan, calling for “a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack in order to ensure accountability.”

“The secretary-general strongly condemns the airstrikes in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that resulted in the death and injury of medical workers and patients at a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital on 3 October,” said a statement issued here by Ban’s spokesman.

“The secretary-general recalls that hospitals and medical personnel are explicitly protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said. “He calls for a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack in order to ensure accountability.”

At early hours of Saturday, the air raid reportedly launched by U.S. forces in Afghanistan struck the Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF hospital in Kunduz city, capital of northern Kunduz province, killing 19 and injuring 37 others.

Earlier on Saturday, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani expressed deep sorrow over the killing and wounding of civilians and medical staffs following the airstrikes that hit the hospital.

“Medecins Sans Frontieres have been operating the only hospital in Kunduz under extremely trying conditions,” the UN statement said. “The secretary-general commends the courageous and dedicated staff of the organization and extends his deepest sympathies to the families of those killed and injured in this attack.”

Among the fatalities in the air attacks were three children, reports said.

The aid group said all indications suggested their Kunduz hospital was bombed by U.S.-NATO forces. In a statement, the group demanded a “full and transparent account” of coalition aerial bombardments over Kunduz.

Earlier, U.S. forces in Afghanistan which support Afghan forces in the war on Taliban militants and terrorists said that an investigation has been initiated into the case.

The Afghan president said that “the Afghan Security and Defense Forces and our allies in the Resolute Support Mission are obliged to ensure safety of civilians and exercise full precision in military operations.”

In a surprise attack, Taliban militants captured major parts of Kunduz city 250 km north of Kabul on Monday and government forces started counter-offensive on Thursday, and so far, according to Kunduz police, hundreds of Taliban militants have been killed.

At least 60 civilians have been killed and nearly 500 civilians wounded since the clashes broke out, according to officials.