Medical charity MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) has confirmed that a least nine of its staff were killed in the Afghan city of Kunduz following an airstrike on one of its clinics today (4 October). The deaths are believed to have been caused by a bombing attack by US forces. The US military have described the attack as "collateral damage".
MSF said that the trauma centre "was hit several times and badly damaged during sustained bombing at 02.10 local time [11.30am BST]." Nato admitted that the clinic could have been hit as a result of manoeuvres being carried out by US forces.
A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Col Brian Tribus, said: "US forces conducted an air strike in Kunduz city at 02:15 (local time)… against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility."
Bart Janssens, director of operations for the charity, said: "We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz. We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased."
MSF said that the hospital housed 105 patients at the time of the attack. The organsistion has now updated the casualty numbers to nine dead and 37 seriously wounded of whom 19 are the charity's staff.
Kunduz was the first city in Afghanistan to fall to the Taliban in nearly 15 years after fighters stormed the city last Monday (28 September) during a new offensive. A Taliban spokesman said that none of its fighters were at the trauma centre at the time of the bombing.
MSF is wholly funded by donations and started working in Afghanistan in 1980. In a statement, the medical charity said that its staff have treated 394 wounded in the city since Monday. It said that the hospital is the only facility of its kind in the north-eastern region of Afghanistan and treats patients regardless of "ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation".
Kunduz is one of Afghanistan's largest cities, with a population of around 300,000.
UPDATE: 15.30 (BST) Number of deaths has been changed due to new information.