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Illustration by Security Management

Kabul Hospital Attack Leaves New Mothers, Newborns, Staff Dead

Three shooters entered a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the morning of 12 May and opened fire on patients and hospital employees. The attack, which no group has yet claimed responsibility for, resulted in the deaths of at least 13 new mothers, newborns, hospital staff, and a police officer.

The attackers entered the 100-bed hospital dressed as police, killing civilians in the hospital, including two babies, and wounding more than a dozen other people. For roughly five hours, Afghan special forces worked to rescue the remaining newborns from the besieged maternity ward and kill the three assailants. NATO troops were also present at the hospital, according to The New York Times.

The hospital, known for its large maternity ward and supported by Doctors Without Borders, sits in a predominantly Shia neighborhood. According to Human Rights Watch, the area has also been a frequent target of the ISIS affiliate the Islamic State of Khorasan Province.

“Deliberate attacks on health care in Afghanistan have increased sharply since 2017,” Human Rights Watch said in a press release. “Insurgents, including both affiliates of ISIS and the Taliban, have been responsible for many of these incidents, although the Afghan national security forces have also raided clinics, killing and assaulting medical workers and patients.”

Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan have increased this spring, despite the United States and the Taliban signing a preliminary peace agreement on 29 February and U.S. troops beginning to withdraw from the country in March.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the hospital attack; however, the Afghan government blamed it after weeks of intensifying attacks from the group. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered his forces to return to offensive attacks against insurgents.

While security forces were working to reach the hospital, roughly 100 miles away from the city a suicide bomber attacked a funeral that was being held for a local police commander. The bomber detonated the explosives close to the deceased and in the midst of hundreds of local mourners, killing at least 25 locals and wounding another 68. An Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the funeral bombing.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on both the Taliban and Afghan government to work together to investigate the attacks.