0738 GMT May 07, 2021
Afghan security forces struggled to evacuate the Kabul hospital after three gunmen launched a morning assault, killing two newborn babies, their mothers and an unspecified number of nurses, Afghan officials said.
Heavily armed forces were seen carrying out babies wrapped in blankets away from the scene and frantic young mothers, as the clearance operation continued.
The facility, which has a large maternity ward, is located in the west of the city, home to the capital's Shia Hazara community – a frequent target of the Daesh terror group.
The flare-up in violence comes as Afghanistan grapples with myriad crises including a rise in militant operations across the country and a surge in coronavirus infections.
A pediatrician who fled the hospital said he heard a loud explosion at the entrance of the building.
"The hospital was full of patients and doctors, there was total panic inside," he said, asking not to be named.
The maternity services at the hospital are supported by humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
"Hospitals and health workers must not be attacked. We call on all sides to stop attacking hospitals and health workers," said deputy health minister in the city, Waheed Majroh.
By mid-afternoon, the ministry issued a statement saying three attackers had stormed the hospital and that one was shot and killed while the other two were still resisting arrest. The first floor of the clinic was cleared but the operation was ongoing to secure the rest of the building, the statement said.
A few hours later, the ministry released another statement, saying all three attackers were dead and that the operation was over.
The day’s spasm of violence extended beyond Kabul. A suicide bomber in eastern Nangarhar province — a Daesh hotbed — targeted a funeral of a local police commander, killing 24 people and wounding 68.
The attacker detonated his explosives in the middle of the ceremony.
According to Zabihullah Zemarai, a provincial council member, dozens of people, including, lawmakers, provincial council members and locals had gathered for the funeral of Shaikh Akram.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Taliban denied they were involved.
AFP and AP contributed to this story.