At least 25 killed in suicide attack on military hospital in Kabul

At least 25 people were killed and 40 others injured in a suicide bomb attack followed by a shooting at a Kabul military hospital., an incident that the Taliban blamed the jihadist group Islamic State of Khorasan (ISIS-K). The Taliban’s special security forces ended the assault in mid-afternoon Tuesday, after killing four attackers and capturing two others alive after hours of intense fighting.

Double blast and shootout

“Unfortunately, we have 25 dead in the attack on a military hospital,” said a member of the Taliban who requested anonymity, putting the number of wounded at at least 40. According to Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosty, the attack began with an initial explosion in front of the entrance to the Sardar Mohammad Daoud Khan hospital, located in the center of the capital and with capacity for about 400 beds. A second explosion took place in the vicinity of the health center, both followed by gunshots.

“At least six attackers were involved in the attack, four of them have died while two were captured alive.”said a Taliban official. The source said that the authorities “are still collecting information on the victims,” ​​although it indicated that there are civilians and members of the security forces among the dead and wounded.

The attack took place while hundreds of people were in the building, causing scenes of panic. “People shouted ‘ISIS is there’ and we heard shootings,” said Amanudhin, a 28-year-old hospital employee. The employee, who fled with a patient in a wheelchair, claimed that “We were on the seventh floor and we locked ourselves in one room, there were injuries everywhere”.

From inside the hospital, another medical source narrated the attack. “We heard a loud explosion at the height of the first control of the hospital. They told us to go to safe rooms. I also heard gunshots, “he said.” I can still hear gun shots inside the hospital building. I think the attackers are going room by room, like the first time he was attacked“he added.

Qari Saed Khosty, an official with the Afghan Interior Ministry, said Taliban special forces rushed to the scene to protect the area after “a bomb” exploded. The streets around the heavily protected “Green Zone”, where the former Western embassy headquarters were located, were closed to traffic and the Taliban conducted search operations.

Daoud Khan Hospital is the main military hospital in Kabul, and is located a few meters from the US embassy and the Afghan Ministry of Health. This hospital suffered in March 2017 an attack claimed by ISIS that caused more than thirty deaths and dozens of injured after a suicide bomber killed himself. For hours, the attackers went room to room shooting patients or stabbing them when they ran out of ammunition.

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Taliban blame ISIS-K

So far no group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, but Taliban blame ISIS-K, the regional branch of the Islamic State, based on “initial information” and, as they remarked in a statement at the end of the attack, the jihadists “failed” in their suicide operation.

“The attack was controlled in 15 minutes and the ISIS fighters died in the entrance and the courtyard of the hospital”said the Taliban spokesman Bilal karim, trying to downplay enemy action. Karim noted that the Taliban ended the attack within 15 minutes after helicoptering “special forces” to the roof of the building.

“The attack was started by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle, who blew himself up at the hospital entrance”said a Taliban official who did not want to reveal his identity. Although they are both radical Sunni groups, ISIS and the Taliban are at odds over the strategy to follow in Afghanistan.

ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for attacks in at least eight of the 34 Afghan provinces since the Taliban seized power on August 15. The largest attack by the jihadist group in recent months, with about 170 deaths, took place on August 26 at the Kabul airport, when thousands of Afghans desperately tried to flee the country on one of the repatriation flights.

In addition, an ISIS suicide attack against a Shiite mosque left at least 80 dead and about 100 wounded in Kunduz on October 8. The tragedy occurred near the location of the funeral of the mother of the Taliban Deputy Minister of Information, Zabihullah Mujahid.

Taliban spokesman Bilal Karim had come out on Tuesday to cross the information published by the newspaper The Wall Street Journal on the entry of former members of the US-trained Afghan intelligence services and elite units into the ranks of ISIS-K to confront the Taliban. Karim remarked in this regard that the jihadist group is incapable of carrying out recruitment tasks in Afghanistan and denied its presence in the country, according to the Afghan news agency Jaama Press.

Analysts and experts point out that ISIS-K has become the Taliban government’s biggest security threat in Afghanistan, being behind almost daily attacks against fundamentalists. In response to these attacks, the Taliban have launched a series of military operations, which are still continuing, and have killed or detained dozens of jihadists.

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