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NATO investigates allegations of foreign troop role in hospital raid

By SLOBODAN LEKIC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 25, 2016

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan opened an investigation on Thursday into accusations that government troops accompanied by foreigners executed three people in a raid on a rural clinic west of Kabul.

“The commander of NATO Special Operations Command-Afghanistan has begun a commander’s inquiry into this matter,” said Col. Michael T. Lawhorn, head of the alliance’s public affairs unit in Afghanistan.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, which runs the clinic in Wardak province, said Afghan troops, accompanied by what appeared to be foreign advisers, came to the clinic on the night of Feb. 17 and took away and executed two patients and a 15-year-old boy who was helping the patients.

Staff at the facility claimed that foreigners who spoke what seemed to be English accompanied the Afghan troops.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement that Afghan Interior Ministry special forces and foreign troops had conducted the operation.

U.S. and coalition trainers sometimes accompany Afghan commandos on raids against Taliban and other insurgent groups in the country. A total of 16 NATO and partner nations contribute instructors to the Afghan special operations forces.

“We are aware of the UNAMA report,” Lawhorn said. The Afghan Interior Ministry has launched its own inquiry into the allegations, he said.

“Both of those investigations are ongoing. It is Resolute Support policy not to discuss ongoing investigations,” Lawhorn said, referring to the name of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

In October, a U.S. airstrike against a hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the northern city of Kunduz killed 42 patients and staff and wounded dozens more. Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, described that airstrike — which occurred during a fierce firefight with Taliban insurgents — as a mistake.

lekic.slobodan@stripes.com

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