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U.S. troops stormed Afghan hospital, aid group says

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: NATO-led force says Afghan police searched clinic for insurgent leader
  • Aid group: U.S. soldiers tied up hospital guards, searched women's wards
  • Swedish Committee for Afghanistan says U.S. looking for Taliban fighters
  • Aid group official calls alleged actions disrespectful of Afghan culture
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- U.S. soldiers searched a hospital in central Afghanistan for Taliban fighters, tying up hospital guards and entering women's wards in violation of local customs, an aid worker said Monday.

The soldiers raided the hospital Wednesday night in Wardak province, said Anders Fange, the country director of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

The troops, from the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, said they were looking for suspected Taliban fighters in the hospital, he said.

They tied up four hospital guards and searched patients' relatives, broke into the nutrition ward and ultrasound room, and searched the female ward of the hospital, according to the aid worker. He said the actions were disrespectful of Afghan culture.

He called the incident "simply not acceptable."

"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," he said, referring to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

In a statement, the ISAF said it met Monday with staff at the medical clinic "to discuss the force's relationship with the clinic."

"Afghan National Police and International Security Assistance Forces entered the clinic on September 2, acting on a report that an insurgent commander was being treated on the premises," the statement said.

Assisted by ISAF troops, Afghan police searched the clinic to determine if the insurgent leader, who was suspected of being responsible for an earlier attack on a convoy in the area, was present, according to the statement. The ISAF said it informed the clinic staff of its reasons for entering the hospital.

Earlier, Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker, an ISAF spokeswoman, said the matter was under investigation. Any operation in the area would have been Afghan-led, supported by ISAF forces, she added. The U.S. Army does operate in the area.

The Swedish aid group reported the matter to Afghanistan's public health minister, who in turn was to take up the matter with the U.S. ambassador, Fange said.

The U.S. Embassy said it had heard of the allegations and was checking to see if the Ministry of Public Health had lodged a complaint or discussed the matter with American officials.

Fange said he is trying to arrange a meeting with a senior U.S. commander in Wardak province.

The Afghan Ministry of Public Health subcontracts aid groups in Afghanistan to provide what's called "Basic Package Health Services."

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan is responsible for Wardak province. The staff at the hospital work directly for the committee.

CNN's Ingrid Formanek and Wahid Mayar contributed to this report.

All About AfghanistanWardak ProvinceU.S. ArmyNATO

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