Kabul, Afghanistan (AFP) – The Afghan air force bombed the facility on Saturday, killing one person and wounding three others, the owner of a private hospital in Afghanistan said. He said the hospital was targeted because the army mistakenly believed Taliban fighters were receiving treatment there.
Dr. Muhammad Din Nariwal, owner of the 20-bed Afghan Ariana Specialist Hospital, told The Associated Press that regional government officials told him that his hospital in Lashkar Gah was being targeted based on information from the Ministry of Defense.
“But there were no two students in the hospital,” said Nariwal. The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to multiple attempts by the Associated Press to contact them.
“I was told that there was an error because they received false information that the Taliban are inside the hospital,” he said, explaining that the Taliban were in fact receiving treatment at another hospital in the city.
The head of the provincial council, Attaullah Afghani, confirmed that the Afghan air force bombed the hospital, and one person was killed.
The air strike came as the Taliban launched an incursion into the southwestern city, waging fierce battles with the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces. Residents reported vertical battles in several neighborhoods.
Nariwal said doctors had performed two surgeries the day before, but as the fighting intensified, the hospital had reduced staffing to a minimum. Currently two patients remain in the hospital with several nurses and midwives for the patients.
Late on Saturday, Afghan security forces were reported to have expelled the Taliban from the city, with reports of intense air attacks on their positions.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have ratcheted up pressure on several cities, including Herat in western Afghanistan, where a United Nations office was attacked as fighting raged nearby. A guard was killed and the United Nations is investigating who was responsible for his death.
The Taliban offensive went into high alert after the announcement in mid-April that the last US and NATO forces would withdraw from Afghanistan, ending America’s longest war. The Taliban have taken control of dozens of provinces and now control nearly half of all 421 provinces and district centers in Afghanistan.
They also control the main border crossings with Tajikistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Even with the withdrawal of US and NATO forces, it is over, America. It provides air support to the beleaguered Afghan ground forces, which are struggling to hold territory. The United States launched air strikes in support of Afghan forces in Herat and in the southern province of Kandahar.
The withdrawal has increased the burden on the Afghan Air Force.
The US watchdog on US spending in Afghanistan reported this week that “all Afghan Air Force (AAF) aircraft platforms are burdened with tax due to increased demands on close air support, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.”
In his report, Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko said the Afghan Air Force flies its aircraft “at least 25% during recommended scheduled maintenance periods.”
As a result, the forces are not reinforced or resupplied, as aircraft are used to help ground forces overcome by the relentless battles with the Taliban.
Meanwhile, calls are being made from Beijing to Washington for both sides of the conflict to sit down and negotiate an agreement that would see a reduction in violence and an interim administration that would negotiate a comprehensive ceasefire. So far, the prospects for peace seem remote.
Gannon reported from Islamabad.
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