Apparent US Airstrike Levels Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan

Apparent US Airstrike Levels Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan

U.S. officials are investigating whether an American aircraft opened fire on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing well over a dozen people.

Aerial strikes destroyed the facility on Saturday, killing at least nine staff members and seven patients, according to CNN. Thirty-seven others were injured, many seriously, and an undetermined number of people are missing. MSF is reporting a higher death count of 12 staffers.

Three of the confirmed dead are children.

A U.S. official anonymously confirmed to CNN that an AC-130 gunship, a heavily armed ground attack aircraft, was supporting U.S. special forces' positions in the area at the time and was also launching airstrikes in the area.

According to MSF, the location of the hospital was known to U.S. forces and the strikes continued for over an hour.

The MSF told NBC News the attack continued for more than 30 minutes after officials in Washington, D.C., were notified the facility was being bombed.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Brian Tribus told BBC the "strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility."

But "This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law," MSF President Meinie Nicolai said in a statement issued to NBC. "We demand total transparency from Coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage.'"

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called the incident "utterly tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal" if it was proven deliberate.

Photos posted online showed the scale of the damage.