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Taliban hid in bombed hospital, claims Afghan Defence Minister

October 19, 2015

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Masoom Stanekzai said on Monday that Taliban insurgents and possibly Pakistani operatives had used the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) facility in the city of Kunduz as a "safe place". ─ Reuters/File
Masoom Stanekzai said on Monday that Taliban insurgents and possibly Pakistani operatives had used the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) facility in the city of Kunduz as a "safe place". ─ Reuters/File

KABUL: Afghanistan's acting Defence Minister says the hospital that was bombed by United States (US) forces was being used by insurgents who were fighting government forces.

Masoom Stanekzai said on Monday that Taliban insurgents and possibly Pakistani operatives had used the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) facility in the city of Kunduz as a "safe place".

The minister's statement follows an Associate Press report last week which claimed American special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on the facility because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity.

Pakistan has, however, rejected these reports. Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah had said, "Allegations implicating Pakistan are baseless."

Khalilullah said, "I want to reiterate that non-interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs is a key pillar of our Afghan policy," adding that Pakistan is fully committed towards preventing its territory from being used against any other country, including Afghanistan.

The hospital was bombed by a US AC-130 gunship in the early hours of Oct 3, killing at least 22 people and injuring many more. The main building was destroyed and the hospital has closed.

After the deadly air strike, US President Barack Obama apologised for the attack on the MSF hospital.

The medical charity has repeatedly denied the presence of Taliban fighters at the time.

Stanekzai says a Taliban flag had been hoisted on the walls around the hospital compound.

He says Afghanistan will not support an independent investigation, as the charity has demanded.

Also read: Allegations implicating Pakistani operative in Kunduz hospital bombing baseless: FO