‘Praying For You All’: Doctors Without Borders Releases Log of Messages With U.S. Military on Night of Bombing

The damaged interior of the hospital in which the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity operated is seen on October 13, 2015 following an air strike in the northern city of Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, the medical charity has warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP Photo / Getty Images)
The damaged interior of the hospital in which the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medical charity operated is seen on October 13, 2015 following an air strike in the northern city of Kunduz. Thirty-three people are still missing days after a US air strike on an Afghan hospital, the medical charity has warned, sparking fears the death toll could rise significantly. (PHOTO CREDIT: AFP Photo / Getty Images)

After nearly an hour of bombing on its hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, a Doctors Without Borders representative in Kabul received a text message from a U.S. military official in response to the group’s pleas to stop the attack: “I’ll do my best,” said the text message from the American, who was also in Kabul. “Praying for you all.”

The 2:59 a.m. message is included in a log released by Doctors Without Borders on Thursday in a report on the Oct. 3 bombing of its Kunduz medical facility by the U.S. military. The first bombs from a U.S. AC-130 gunship fell between 2 a.m. and 2:08 a.m., prompting a flurry of calls from the medical organization, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières Global (MSF), for the airstrikes to stop.

The report was released by MSF to be transparent and counter speculation that the hospital was being used as a Taliban military base, the medical organization said. The hospital was treating Afghan civilians, Taliban fighters and civilians the night of the airstrikes, it said.

The bombing came as the U.S. and Afghan militaries fought to take back the city of Kunduz, which had fallen to the Taliban a few days before. Some 30 medical staff members and patients were killed, with some burned beyond recognition.

“The question remains as to whether our hospital lost protected status in the eyes of the military forces engaged in this attack — and if so, why,” said Joanne Liu, MSF’s international president, in a letter included with the report. “This answer does not lie within the MSF hospital. Those responsible for requesting, ordering and approving the airstrikes hold these answers.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said Thursday that MSF shared its report with the military ahead of releasing it. Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, also met with MSF leaders in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Davis added.

“We continue to work closely with MSF in identifying the victims killed and wounded so we can conclude our investigations and proceed with follow-on actions, to include condolence payments. We’re also committed to working with MSF to determine the full extent of the damage on the hospital so that it can be repaired in full.”

MSF began making calls about the airstrikes, which remain under investigation by the U.S. military, no more than 11 minutes after the first airstrikes hit the hospital, the report said. At 2:19 a.m., an MSF official called the top U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan to say that the hospital had been hit with an airstrike, but the bombs continued to fall.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe