Monday, September 7, 2009

Wire Update: US Military Challenges Charity's Allegations of Misconduct at Afghan Hospital

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that a U.S. military spokesman and a senior adviser to the Army's 10th Mountain Division are now pushing back against claims made by a Swedish charity group that its soldiers rampaged through a hospital in Wardak province, Afghanistan while searching for insurgents.

A senior spokesman for Central Command (CENTCOM) Captain Jack Hanzlik said the Army did enter the hospital, but did so in cooperation with the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police, and the staff of the hospital, Fox News reported.

The counrty director of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, on Monday accused U.S soldiers of breaking down doors, searching patients' relatives and entering the ultrasound room.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan put out a statement 4 days after the incident claiming: "the U.S. troops "searched all rooms, even bathrooms, male and female wards, Fox said. Rooms that were locked were forcefully entered and the doors of the malnutrition ward and the ultrasound ward were broken by force to gain entry."

The statement went on to accuse U.S. soldiers of restraining hospital workers and tying up family members of several patients.

Captain Hanzlik told Fox News that members of Task Force 82, which includes members of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, were chasing insurgents who had recently detonated an IED.

Fox News reported the following details:
Those forces, he said, had strong reason to believe that an insurgent commander was in the hospital and explained these concerns to hospital staff before seeking permission to enter the hospital.

Coalition forces, which included members of the Afghan National Army and Police, then entered the hospital with permission from the staff, the military said. "No one was tied up," according to Hanzlik. "However, one locked door was kicked in, but again with permission from the hospital."
In a FOX News on-air report, Lt. James Peck, who was the on scene commander, said they spoke with the hospital staff before entering any of the rooms.
"They didn't have keys for two doors. The rest they were able to open with keys, but the two they didn't have keys for, we asked them first if we could enter, and they said if we desired we could enter."
A senior civilian adviser to the 10th Mountain Division who is based in Wardak said concerns were raised about the troops having entered the hospital when the charity group's headquarters in Kabul heard that U.S. troops had entered the clinic, Fox said.

In the on-air report, Fox noted that local Taliban may have also been involved in pressuring hospital staff to complain about the incident.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: U.S. Military Challenge Allegations of Misconduct at Afghan Hospital

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