Afghanistan’s acting defense minister Masoom Stanekzai said on Tuesday that the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital, which was hit by air strikes in northern Kunduz earlier this month, was being used by insurgents as their base.
He told Associated Press that possibly Pakistani intelligence operatives were also using the facility as a “safe base”.
“There was fighting coming from the vicinity of the hospital,” Stanekzai said, adding that injured insurgents from the Taliban and other militant groups were being treated at the Doctors Without Borders facility.
There were also some Taliban members in the hospital who were looking after their injured members, he continued.
According to Stanekzai, Taliban had raised their flag on the walls of the hospital – which was struck on October 3, leaving 22 people dead, including 12 MSF staff members.
“That was a place they wanted to use as a type of safe base,” he confirmed.
However after the incident, the American military said the strike was a “mistake” – which was repeatedly rejected by MSF officials as untrue.
But Stanekzai said: “If the fighting was not coming from there that kind of a mistake would never happen.”
The MSF officials however have repeatedly denied the presence of Taliban in the compound at the time of attack.
This comes after the Pentagon on Monday said according to MSF a tank entered the grounds of its hospital in Kunduz without permission, damaging the compound, destroying potential evidence, and distressing its staff.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said that the vehicle was transporting a team on October 15 to conduct an inspection to determine the structural integrity of the building.
The team mistakenly believed there were no MSF personnel at the site when they rammed the gate, he said.
“Unbeknownst to our team there were MSF personnel, and they were understandably not happy,” Davis said. “They should have coordinated ahead of time, and they are going to make it right and make sure that that gate is repaired.”