Three gunmen stormed in the maternity ward of a hospital in Kabul on May 12 killing at least 24 people including newborn babies and mothers. This attack on the Kabul hospital came after a suicide bomber blew himself at a funeral of a local commander in Nangarhar province that also killed at least 24 people.
Attack on Maternity Ward of Kabul Hospital
On Tuesday morning, locals in Kabul reported hearing two blasts, gunfire and smoke coming out of the maternity ward of the hospital run by international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).
A local said – The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason. The Afghan special forces reached the spot and rescued about 100 women and children, as told by an official. All three terrorists were killed by the security forces.
Similar incidents have jolted Kabul in the past where Shia Muslims have been attacked by the Islamic State (IS) and Taliban, who are predominantly are Sunni Muslims.
In 2017, a similar attack took place in Kabul’s diplomatic area on the main military hospital in the city. The hospital attack for which the ISIS claimed responsibility was heavily guarded and was in the vicinity of the US embassy and NATO headquarters. The attack on the hospital was furiously debated in the Afghan Parliament.
The Taliban has also attacked hospitals before. In 2019, about 20 people were killed and 90 injured when a truck stuffed with explosives was detonated outside a hospital in southern Zabul province. Many of the victims killed in the attack were doctors and patients.
Responsibility of the Kabul Hospital Attack
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that Taliban was not involved in the attack. The ISIS has taken responsibility for the funeral attack but there is no immediate responsibility for the Kabul hospital attack.
Nonetheless, the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani in an address to the nation, said that he has shifted the response from the “active defence” position adopted after the US tried to broker a peace deal.
“In order to provide security TO public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I’m ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to resume their operations against the enemies,” said Ghani.
He further added that The Taliban have not given up fighting and killing Afghans, instead, they have increased their attacks on our countrymen and public places.
This double tragedy in Afghanistan has shaken not just the war-torn country but the whole world. At a time when the world is fighting a pandemic, such ghastly attacks are inhumane in every possible way. The attacks were widely condemned by various countries and human rights groups around the world.
India “strongly condemned” the terror attack. “Such reprehensible attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in an official response.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “any attack on innocents is unforgivable, but to attack infants and women in labour… is an act of sheer evil. Terrorists who attack mourners lining up for prayer at a funeral are only seeking to tear apart the bonds that hold families and communities together, but they will never succeed.”
Amnesty International South Asia wrote, “The unconscionable war crimes in Afghanistan today, targeting a maternity hospital and a funeral, must awaken the world to the horrors civilians continue to face. There must be accountability for these grave crimes, and civilians must be protected.”
US-Taliban Peace Treaty
Despite the Taliban’s denial, President Ghani’s proscription of the Taliban is reflective of the anger of many Afghans. The troop withdrawal agreement signed between the US and Taliban which was aimed at ending the 18-year-old conflict seems to be breaking apart.
The peace treaty intended to pave way for cooperation between the Taliban the Afghan government are becoming even slimmer.
“If the Taliban cannot control the violence, or their sponsors have now subcontracted their terror to other entities, which was one of our primary concerns from the beginning, then there is little point in continuing to engage Taliban in ‘peace talks’,” said Hamdullah Mobib, President Ghani’s national security adviser.
The Pentagon declined to comment on Ghani’s statement on restarting the offensive, saying only that the U.S. military continued to reserve the right to defend Afghan security forces if they are attacked by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, after the ghastly Kabul hospital attacks, a suicide bombing in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province that aimed to target a military compound, exploded before its target and killed five civilians and wounded at least 29 others.
The Taliban took responsibility for the bombing, calling it an act of revenge for statements by President Ashraf Ghani for blaming them for an attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul.
Written By Smriti Chaudhary. Edited By Xavier Francis