Despite talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to usher in an era of peace, fighting and violent terror attacks continue unabated including a bombing at a funeral in east Afghanistan Tuesday that killed at least 24 people. It was, however, the gruesome militant attack on a hospital maternity ward in the capital Kabul that killed two babies and 12 mothers and nurses that has left the war-torn country and the world in shock.
In addition to the 12 left dead, 15 people, including several children, were injured by several gunmen during the attack, according to officials.
The attacks have shot down all hope for peace in the region as President Ashraf Ghani responded by ordering the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other terrorist groups, accusing them of ignoring repeated calls for less violence.
The Islamic State (IS) group has taken credit for the attack on a police commander’s funeral in Nangarhar, in the east of the country though it remains unclear who executed the attack on the hospital as the Taliban has denied any involvement.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on the hospital “sheer evil” and an “unconscionable assault”. In a statement, he urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to co-operate to “bring the perpetrators to justice,” according to BBC news.
BBC News has more:
The attack began at about 10:00 (05:30 GMT), and locals described hearing two blasts then gunfire. One doctor who fled during the assault told the BBC about 140 people were in the hospital when the gunmen attacked.
Another doctor told AFP news agency that “total panic” took hold as the assault unfolded.
Ramazan Ali, a vendor who saw the attack begin, told Reuters news agency: “The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason… It’s a government hospital, and a lot of people bring in their women and children for treatment.”
Afghan special forces rescued 100 women and children, including three foreigners, an official told the BBC. The attackers, who reportedly had gained access dressed as police officers, were all killed by security personnel after a battle lasting hours.
Images from the scene showed soldiers carrying one newborn baby to safety, swaddled in a blood-stained blanket.
The Taliban and IS have a history of attacking hospitals. The BBC reports that in the past, similar attacks in the mostly Shia area of the capital have been attributed to IS. In 2017, IS gunmen disguised themselves as medical staff to attack Kabul’s main military hospital killing about 50 people. Last September, 20 people were killed after a truck with explosives was set off by Taliban militants outside of a hospital in Southern Zabul province.
IS leader of South Asia and the Far East was arrested Tuesday along with two other high profile members, BBC News reports Afghan intelligence has said.
These attacks are devastating tragedies. Remember to be in prayer for those who live in constant fear of terrorism and for the families of the victims killed in these most recent attacks.
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