UN documents human rights situation in Kunduz

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report documenting human rights abuses in the northern city of Kunduz during the three days when it was overrun by the Taliban and the subsequent two-week government counter-offensive to completely retake the city.

The report, released on Saturday, documents 289 deaths and 559 civilian injuries that occurred in Kunduz and the surrounding districts between September 28 and October 13.

"The vast majority of casualties documented so far resulted from ground fighting that could not be attributed solely to one party," the report stated.

Also Saturday, Doctors Without Borders announced an increased death toll from an accidental US airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz. The medical charity, also known by its French acronym MSF, said in a statement that 42 people were killed on October 3, with the revised toll resulting from a "methodical review of MSF records and family claims, as well as patient, staff and family testimonies."

It added that the figures include 14 MSF staff members confirmed to have been killed, as well as 24 patients and four caretakers —relatives that provided additional nursing care for the patients in the hospital.

Spokespeople for the US military in Kabul did not comment.

"The battle following the Taliban's attack on the city led to a loss of protection of the most basic human rights, including the rights to life and security of person. The deterioration of security, the breakdown of the rule of law and the absence of governance enabled an environment in which civilians were subjected to arbitrary killings, assault, other forms of violence, including gender-based violence, threats and widespread criminality," the UN report said.

Kunduz, the capital of a province with the same name, was held by the Taliban for three days before a government counter-offensive was launched. Afghan troops took more than two weeks to bring the city back under government control, with small groups of Taliban fighters offering fierce resistance in certain neighborhoods. Later, an Afghan investigation concluded that weak leadership, misuse of resources and lack of coordination between services were the main reasons Kunduz fell to the Taliban.

UNAMA also received several reports of individual incidents of targeted and deliberate killings during the attack on and subsequent occupation of the city.