U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Accused of Misconduct in Hospital Raid

A Swedish charity accused American troops Monday of searching a hospital in central Afghanistan, tying up security guards and breaking into female wards, which is offensive to local Islamic customs.

Anders Fange, the country director of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, accused troops of breaking down doors, searching patients' relatives and entering the ultrasound room.
The troops from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division claimed they entered the Wardak province hospital looking for suspected Taliban fighters, said Fange, and said they demanded hospital staff to inform military authorities of any incoming patients who might be insurgents.

A senior military official in Afghanistan told FOX News that an investigation has been launched into the incident.

"All we know right now is that the information we have from a few other sources contradicts the version of events given to the media. We're digging deeper but don't have anything substantive to share at this point."

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details.

"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."

Civilian deaths and intrusive searches have bred resentment among the Afghan population nearly eight years after the U.S.-led coalition invaded to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime for sheltering Al Qaeda terrorist leaders.

Fange, who called the incident "simply not acceptable," said hospitals are seen as a neutral zone.

"If the international military forces are not respecting the sanctity of health facilities, then there is no reason for the Taliban to do it either," he said. "Then these clinics and hospitals would become military targets."

Fange said informing on patients would put the staff at risk and make the hospital a target and he demanded guarantees the military would not enter hospitals without permission in future.

"It is not only a clear violation of globally recognized humanitarian principles about the sanctity of health facilities and staff in areas of conflict, but also a clear breach of the civil-military agreement between NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and ISAF," Fange said, referring to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

A senior military official in Afghanistan told FOX News that there is no reporting requirement for ISAF, but could not comment if Afghan police required one.

Violence has surged across much of Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more U.S. troops to the country this year. Two foreign troops were killed Sunday when their patrol hit a roadside bomb and a third died of wounded sustained in a separate gunbattle with insurgents, NATO said without giving their nationalities. All three deaths were in volatile southern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, insurgents killed more civilians in bombings and other attacks. On Monday, the government said three militant rockets landed overnight in the capital, Kabul, hitting a house and killing three people. In central Uruzgan province, a remote-controlled bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy market, killing two children and wounding 16 other people, according to local police official Gulab Khan.

A United Nations report in July said the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24 percent this year, with bombings by insurgents and airstrikes by international forces the biggest killers. The report said 1,013 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, 59 percent in insurgent attacks and 30.5 percent by foreign and Afghan government forces. The rest were undetermined.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.