Home Afghanistan Babies among dozens dead in attacks on Afghan hospital, funeral

Babies among dozens dead in attacks on Afghan hospital, funeral

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Ashraf Ghani orders resumption of anti-Taliban offensive after attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar

KABUL: Gunmen attacked a hospital that houses a maternity clinic in Kabul, killing at least 16 people including two newborn babies, and a suicide bomber killed at least 24 others at a funeral on a morning of double tragedy for Afghanistan.

In the capital, soldiers raced out of the hospital carrying infants wrapped in bloodstained blankets to waiting ambulances, after the attackers rampaged their way through the wards۔

The Interior Ministry said 14 people were killed, including two newborn babies, and 15 others were wounded in the attack by three gunmen at the mostly Shi’ite neighbourhood of Dasht-e Barchi.

According to the authorities, some of the attackers were cornered inside the hospital and allegedly started the fire inside the building. The police were forced to deploy special forces around the site.

The morning’s assault began with an explosion at the entrance to the 100-bed hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi, in the west of the capital, at about 10am local time. Three gunmen then burst inside and began shooting, apparently indiscriminately.

Security personnel evacuating newborn babies and mothers from the hospital after gunmen attack killing 16 mothers, nurses and two newborn babies in Kabul on Tuesday.

“They started firing as soon as they reached the doorstep,” one weeping doctor told Afghanistan’s Tolo television, soon after escaping. “Four mothers were killed in the room, two were in a safe room and survived. It was a devastating scene.”

A reporter who was able to access the hospital soon after the attack said gunmen appeared to have opened fire in every room, and on everyone inside, with some bodies still lying in the recovery room where women are taken after giving birth.

Husbands, brothers and fathers, who are not normally allowed on maternity wards in Afghanistan, thronged nearby streets in desperation, begging for news about whether their relatives had survived.

“Sixteen women and children were martyred and 16 other civilians were wounded in today’s barbaric terrorist attack,” said Feroz Bashiri, the director of government media and information centre.

A witness, Jawad Amiri, told RFE/RL that one of the attackers “was wearing a military uniform and the other two were dressed as doctors.”

“They came to the main entrance and opened fire at people everywhere around. They killed many innocent people,” he added.

Security forces eventually killed all three attackers, allowing the rescue of 80 women and infants from the hospital.

An Afghan soldier carries an injured baby from the hospital after the attack in Kabul on May 12.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in response ordered a resumption of a full offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups, ending a period of reduced military activity ahead of US-brokered peace talks that had been expected to start this year.

In a message sent to RFE/RL on May 12, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the militant group was involved in the hospital attack.

IS has claimed responsibility for numerous other attacks against Shi’ite Muslims in the western part of Kabul.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan expressed “shock and revulsion” at the attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar and called for those responsible to face justice.

EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the attacks as “acts of evil” that showed “an appalling degree of inhumanity.”

Human Rights Watch said the assault on the Kabul hospital showed “blatant disregard for civilian life and is an apparent war crime.”

The New York-based watchdog said in a statement that attacks on health care in Afghanistan had increased “sharply” since 2017.

IS has claimed responsibility for a spate of violence in Kabul on May 11 that wounded a child and three adult civilians.

Those attacks included three roadside bombs as well as a fourth bomb placed under a garbage can in the northern part of the Afghan capital.

The Interior Ministry said on May 11 that Afghan security forces arrested the Islamic State group’s regional leader for South Asia, Abu Omar Khorasani, during an operation on the northern side of the Afghan capital.–agencies

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