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12 May, 2020 06:30

2 infants among 13 killed by gunmen in attack on MSF-backed hospital in Kabul

A brutal raid on a hospital in western Kabul, where Doctors Without Borders (MSF) operates a maternity ward, has left 13 people dead, including two infants. The attackers were killed after an hours-long standoff.

Gunmen stormed the 100-bed hospital located in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of the Afghan capital on Tuesday morning. At least two powerful explosions were heard at the scene, followed by gunfire, local media reported. The attack reportedly started with a suicide bomber setting off an explosion at the entrance to the compound, with men wearing military uniforms then storming in shooting guns and throwing grenades.

Afghan security forces were deployed to the scene, with the tense confrontation ending hours later with all gunmen killed. The raid left 13 people dead at the hospital, including two newborn babies, the ministry reported in the aftermath. Fifteen people have been injured and were taken to other hospitals for treatment.

The identities of the four attackers were not immediately disclosed. The Taliban militant group has denied any involvement in the attack on the hospital, leading to speculation that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) must be behind it.

IS has claimed credit for several high-profile attacks in Afghanistan recent months, including one targeting a Sikh temple in March. The Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood is home to many Hazaras, members of a predominantly Shia ethnic minority. IS, a Sunni fundamentalist group, often targets Shiites.

The attackers were reportedly trying to get inside a guest house where foreigner personnel of the hospital stay.

MSF has been providing support to the government-run Dasht-e-Barchi hospital to operate a maternal care ward. The organization says it’s the only place in the poor neighborhood, with a population of over one million, capable of dealing with emergency and complicated deliveries.

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