A healthcare facility operated by Doctors Without Borders was bombed by Saudi Arabian aircraft late Monday evening. The facility is one of the only healthcare clinics still operating in the embattled region on Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia. Staff and patients were successfully evacuated before the Saudi warplanes hit the facility a second time, suffering only minor injuries.
Twelve patients and staff were in the small facility at the time, and only one remains in critical condition – a patient injured during the attack.
Doctors Without Borders head of mission in Yemen confirmed for the New York Times that the facility’s coordinates had been reported to the Saudi coalition. The coordinates were confirmed every month, in order to avoid collateral damage from the airstrikes which have claimed the lives of some 1,950 civilians since they began in March of this year.
The Saudi-led coalition began its air campaign against Yemeni rebels earlier this year, as Inquisitr reported, in hopes of preventing the rebels from reinstalling deposed President Hadi to power.
The attacks have had a polarizing effect on the people of Yemen, who are tired of the fighting. Retired soldier Ahmed Saleh Ahmed told the New York Times that everyone in his province is fighting alongside the rebels now.
“The Saudis have left us no choice,” he said, “Their aggression has hit all of us.”
Ahmed has lost friends and family to Saudi airstrikes, and during his military career he spent years fighting the Houthis. But after the Saudis got involved in Yemeni affairs, he has come out of retirement to fight alongside the Houthi rebels.
This attack marks the second time this month that a Doctors Without Borders facility has been bombed by military forces. An airstrike carried out by U.S. forces destroyed a healthcare facility in the Afghan city of Kunduz just earlier this month. Among the patients and staff at the facility, 19 were killed, including three children.
That was an act which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called “tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal.” Doctors Without Borders themselves have called for a formal inquiry into the attack.
NPR’s Philip Reeves commented that after the facility was bombed, some hospital staff “burned to death as they lay in their beds.”
The U.S. airstrike came just six days after the Taliban celebrated their largest military victory in 14 years, the recapture of the city of Kunduz.
The Afghan foreign minister shrugged off the attack, stating that terrorists were hiding within the healthcare facility, which provides free trauma care to anyone, regardless of affiliation.
In a report released Monday, the Washington Post reports that the attack was ordered by a U.S. Special Forces team on the ground in Kunduz, who knew the facility was a hospital, but thought it was under Taliban control. The report illustrates that U.S. Special Forces, and military commanders in the region, knew that the facility was a Doctors Without Borders hospital, and that its location was well circulated among the military.
The report goes on to describe that U.S. officials had questioned Doctors Without Borders regarding the Taliban presence within the hospital, based on the anonymous intelligence sources.
“The hospital was under the control of Doctors Without Borders,” says Tim Shenk, a spokesman with the organization, “Our staff reported no armed combatants or fighting in the compound prior to the airstrike.”
Still, the airstrike was ordered and carried out on October 3, involving an AC-130 gunship which bombarded the facility for nearly an hour.
Regarding the report, the Pentagon cautions that their investigations are still underway.
“It would be premature to draw any conclusions before the investigations are complete,” Pentagon Spokesman Major Roger Cabiness told the Washington Post.
[Photos via Doctors Without Borders]