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Afghanistan: Terrorist storm maternity hospital, killed 16 people including 2 newborn babies in Kabul

News Agencies | Updated on: 13 May 2020, 10:20 IST

Terrorists stormed a maternity hospital in the western part of the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, setting off an hours-long shoot-out with the police and killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers as well as an unspecified number of nurses.

Security forces cordoned off the area as they evacuated more than 80 women and infants from the hospital, where medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) runs a maternity clinic, Al Jazeera reported.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian was quoted as saying that three foreign nationals were also among those safely evacuated, without divulging further details.

But it was unclear why the maternity hospital in Dashti Barchi, a 100-bed facility, was targeted - an attack Arian said was an "act against humanity and a war crime".

At least three attackers wearing police uniforms entered the hospital, throwing grenades and shooting, officials said.

It should be noted that Dashti Barchi is a mostly Shia neighbourhood and home to many members of Afghanistan's Hazara community, which has been attacked by ISIL in the past, including at a Kabul ceremony commemorating the death of one of its leaders in March.

Also on Tuesday, in a suicide bombing in eastern Nangarhar province, an attacker targeted the Khewa-district funeral of Shaikh Akram, a local pro-government militia commander who had died of a heart attack on Monday night, said Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The attacks also claimed the life of Abdullah Malikzai, a member of Nangarhar's provincial council.

Dozens of people, including, politicians, provincial council members and locals had gathered for the funeral of Shaikh Akram, the militia commander.

The interior ministry said the final casualty toll included 24 killed and 68 wounded. The wounded were brought to the Nangarhar provincial hospital, said hospital spokesman Gulzada Sangar.

These two incidents bring the total death toll in two terror attacks in Afghanistan on Tuesday close to 40, with more than dozens being wounded at the same time, officials said.

The Taliban have rejected involvement in both attacks, which come amid efforts to take forward the rejuvenated yet fragile Afghan peace process.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the Taliban was not involved in the attack which has triggered strong condemnation from the international community.

But Afghan officials appeared to connect the two attacks with rising Taliban violence in other parts of the country. Hours after the siege at the hospital ended, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered his armed forces to resume offensive operations against the Taliban, according to The Washington Post.

"This is not peace, nor its beginnings," Afghanistan's national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib said in a post on Twitter, referring to Tuesday's violence. He said that the Taliban "subcontracted their terror to other entities" and that there is "little point in continuing to engage Taliban in 'peace talks.' "

Ghani justified the decision, saying the Taliban has ignored calls for a reduction in violence or cease-fire and instead intensified insurgent attacks.

India's Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement to express strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

It said, "India strongly condemns the barbaric terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, including women and children, at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, funeral in Nangarhar province and the Army check post in Laghman province on 11-12 May. Such reprehensible attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses, and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity."

Some media reports also state that the attack was in retaliation to the Afghan security forces' action to arrest top ISIS Commander Zia Ul-Haq, also known as Abu Omar Khorasani, along with two other top Daesh leaders.


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First published: 13 May 2020, 9:44 IST