Medics frantically phoned NATO and Washington as bombs rained down on the hospital, killing at least 19 people.

21:32, UK, Saturday 03 October 2015

Afghanistan Airstrike Aftermath

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he is "deeply saddened" after the US military bombed an Afghan hospital, killing 12 aid workers and seven patients.

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) frantically phoned NATO and Washington as bombs rained down on its staff working at the trauma centre in Kunduz.

One medic described how patients unable to escape "burned to death as they lay in their beds".

Map of Afghanistan showing the city of Kunduz

Three children were among the dead, and 37 people were seriously wounded. The 12 medics killed all worked for MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

Many patients and staff are still missing, as about 200 people were in the building at the time.

Afghan Interior Minister

Mr Stoltenberg said: "A US investigation into this tragic incident is underway in co-ordination with the Afghan government."

UN's human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein called the airstrikes "utterly tragic and inexcusable".

The US military later admitted it carried out airstrikes "in the vicinity" of the hospital, and was targeting Taliban fighters firing at American soldiers.

It said they "may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility" but details were still not clear.

Staff and patients in Kunduz hospital before US air strike

The first bomb landed at 2.10am - and nine minutes later, MSF staff rang NATO's offices in Kabul and military officials in Washington. Despite this, the bombing continued until 3.13am.

Afghan's Interior Ministry said there were "10 to 15 terrorists" hiding in the building, which is why it was targeted.

Meinie Nicolai, the MSF's president, has called for total transparency, adding: "We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage'."

Most of the wounded were transferred to another hospital in Puli Khumri, about two hours away.

MSF says it gave the co-ordinates of the hospital to US and Afghan forces several times to avoid being caught in a crossfire - including earlier this week.

"Precise location of our Kunduz hospital communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months," the group said on Twitter.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said 105 patients, 80 staff and about a dozen Taliban militants were in the hospital when it was struck.

"All of the terrorists were killed, but we also lost doctors," a spokesman added.

Ministers visit Afghanistan

Kunduz, the northern provincial capital, has been the scene of fierce battles since it was overrun by the Taliban last Monday.

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