Just as the whole world was celebrating the international nurse day to honour and show gratitude to the nurses, things took a violent turn in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul
Three gunmen stormed a hospital which houses a maternity clinic, on Tuesday. Afghanistan’s Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh said at least 24 people were killed in the attack and another 16 wounded. This statement comes out on Wednesday, the authorities had earlier said that 14 people died.
One of the health officials has reported that the number of deaths has increased to 24 including children’s just hours old along with the nurses. The attackers were killed by the heavily armed Afghan forces in a lengthy clearance operation. The soldiers were seen being raced out of the hospital carrying infants wrapped in blood-stained blankets to waiting ambulances.
Photograph: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters
The Taliban said they were not responsible for either attack, but have not condemned the bloodshed at the Kabul hospital.
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, called the twin assaults “appalling”, adding: “The Taliban and the Afghan government should cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“As long as there is no sustained reduction in violence and insufficient progress towards a negotiated political settlement, Afghanistan will remain vulnerable to terrorism.”
The morning’s assault began with an explosion at the entrance to the 100-bed hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi, in the west of the capital, at about 10 am local time. Three gunmen then burst inside and began shooting, apparently indiscriminately.
“They started firing as soon as they reached the doorstep,” one weeping doctor told Afghanistan’s Tolo television, soon after escaping. “Four mothers were killed in the room, two were in a safe room and survived. It was a devastating scene.”
A reporter who was able to access the hospital soon after the attack said gunmen appeared to have opened fire in every room, and on everyone inside, with some bodies still lying in the recovery room where women are taken after giving birth. Husbands, brothers, and fathers, who are not normally allowed on maternity wards in Afghanistan, thronged nearby streets in desperation, begging for news about whether their relatives had survived.
Photograph: Hedayatullah Amid/EPA
President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the resumption of offensive operations against the Taliban and other groups saying that they have ignored the repeated calls for a reduction in violence.
Zainab, a mother who lost her child in the attack, was struggling to conceive for 7 years. When she gave birth to a baby boy, she was at last wrapped and named the boy “Omid” meaning “Hope.” Zainab, hearing the commotion raced back from the washroom and collapsed on the floor as she took in the sight.
“I brought my daughter-in-law to Kabul so that she would not lose her baby,” Zahra Muhammadi, Zainab’s mother in law, “We gave him the name Omid. Hope for a better future, hope for better Afghanistan, and hope for a mother who has been struggling to have a child for years.” She told Reuters.
“Sixteen women and children were martyred and 16 other civilians were wounded in today’s barbaric terrorist attack,” said Feroz Bashiri, the director of government media and information center.
Rights group Amnesty International condemned both the attacks.”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,” the group tweeted.”There must be accountability for these grave crimes.”
Countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, and Pakistan released statements condemning the violence. The attack which targeted the most vulnerable of citizens, including children’s just hour old and exhausted nurses and new mothers created a wave of horror and revulsion among the citizens.