Forty Killed in Afghanistan Attack on Maternity Ward

  • “An attack on a maternity clinic is simply unspeakable,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Right Watch.
  • It was not immediately clear who attacked the hospital.
  • In the past, both ISIS and the Taliban have attacked hospitals.

Forty people, including mothers, nurses, and two newborns, were killed in an attack on a government hospital in Kabul. Fifteen other civilians were injured in the attack, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry, while about 100 people at the hospital were rescued. According to officials, Afghan security forces also killed three assailants involved in the operation after a clash that lasted for several hours.

The Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.

“An attack on a maternity clinic is simply unspeakable,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Right Watch. “This attack is the latest incident of an armed group in Afghanistan targeting patients, healthcare workers, and medical facilities.”

The maternity ward at Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital in western Kabul is run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international organization of doctors, and foreigners serve there. It was not immediately clear who attacked the hospital. The Afghan Taliban has expressed dissatisfaction with the attacks, while some observers in Kabul believe it could be the work of ISIS, an armed group active in Afghanistan.

“Those paying the price when armed groups attack medical facilities are not just the patients and medical staff but all Afghans, including children, who are denied essential care when hospitals cannot function,” Gossman said. “In the midst of a pandemic, Afghanistan needs its medical facilities more than ever.”

In the past, both ISIS and the Taliban have attacked hospitals. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on Kabul’s Central Military Hospital in 2007. Fifty people were killed in the attack. Similarly, the Taliban attacked a truck loaded with explosives outside a hospital in Zabul province in September last year. Twenty people were killed in the attack.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is an Afghan politician and current president of Afghanistan, elected on 21 September 2014. An anthropologist by education, he previously served as finance minister and the chancellor of Kabul University.

President Ashraf Ghani has said that despite all his efforts, armed groups have not shown seriousness in maintaining peace. He said he was ordering Afghan security forces to resume operations against them.

The second major attack in Afghanistan took place on Tuesday in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where a suicide bomber blew himself up at a gathering attending the funeral of a senior police commander. Twenty-four people were killed and 68 were injured in the attack. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly condemned the attacks, saying they were “devastating” during the holy month of Ramadan. He added that terrorists who attacked mourners queuing for funeral prayers would never succeed in their aims, and said any attack on innocent people is unforgivable.

Some analysts have criticized the government for recent attacks, saying it has failed to provide security. According to them, unprofessional appointments in the security sector and negligence on the part of the authorities have prevented the recent bloody incidents from escalating. The government denies the allegations of negligence and says it faces a ruthless and cruel enemy.

The president’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said the president, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, had held detailed video conferences over the past month with the leadership of security and defense establishments in nine provinces.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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