Two newborn babies have been killed along with at least 12 mothers and nurses after gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Three gunmen entered the building dressed as police officers before throwing grenades and opening fire with rifles, leaving 15 including men, women and children injured. The attackers were later shot dead.
ISIS – which also carried out a series of attacks in the Afghan capital on Monday – is suspected of being behind the attack, though has yet to claim responsibility.
The Taliban, which is due to enter into peace talks soon having signed an agreement with US forces in February, has denied involvement.
Two newborn babies were among 14 people killed including mothers and nurses after three gunmen stormed a maternity clinic in Afghanistan (pictured, a baby is evacuated)
The gunmen entered the maternity hospital in Kabul dressed as police before throwing grenades and opening fire, government officials said (pictured, babies are evacuated)
Meanwhile in the eastern state of Nangarhar a suicide bomber targeted the funeral of a famed pro-government warlord, killing 24 people and wounding 68.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for that attack, but the area is a hotbed of ISIS activity. The Taliban again denied involvement.
A third attack then struck Khost province after a bomb planted under a cart in a market killed a child and wounded 10 more. No group claimed responsibility.
However, ISIS did lay claim to a series of attacks across Kabul on Monday which wounded four civilians, including a child.
The near-daily attacks in Afghanistan are threatening to undermine a peace process which was due to begin after the US and Taliban signed a deal to end America’s longest-running conflict in February.
The attacks have also left Afghan authorities ill-prepared to face the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 4,900 cases of the virus have been detected in Afghanistan so far, while at least 127 have died from it.
The gunmen then got into a shootout with security forces which ended several hours later when all three were shot dead (pictured, the scene inside one of the wards)
Speaking about the hospital attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said over 100 women and babies were evacuated before it was over.
Three foreign nationals were among those safely evacuated, he said, without elaborating.
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.’
Photos shared by the Interior Ministry during the Kabul attack show newborn babies and their mothers being carried out of the hospital by Afghan security forces.
Once the gunmen were dead, husbands, fathers and family members of patients gathered outside, desperate for news of their loved ones.
A man read out the names of those who had been evacuated to other hospitals.
Neighboring Pakistan condemned the Kabul attack, calling it an ‘inhuman and cowardly terrorist attack.’
No group has yet claimed responsibility though ISIS is suspected to be behind the attack after the Taliban denied involvement (pictured, a baby is evacuated)
Two more attacks elsewhere in Afghanistan on Monday targeted a market and a funeral procession, killing at least 25 others
The foreign ministry said both the Kabul hospital attack and the one on the funeral ‘are particularly despicable as they take place in the holy month of Ramadan and at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.’
In the Nangarhar attack, the funeral was being held for a local pro-government militia commander and former warlord who had died of a heart attack on Monday.
The Interior Ministry said the final casualty toll included 24 killed and 68 wounded.
A government spokesman added that the dead included Abdullah Lala Jan, a provincial council member, while his father Noor Agha, a lawmaker, was wounded.
The attacks also come after Afghan intelligence services said they had captured IS leader Zia-ul Haq, also known as Shaikh Abu Omer Al-Khorasani, late Monday.