Explosions and gun attack on central Kabul hospital kill 25 people – The Guardian

explosions-and-gun-attack-on-central-kabul-hospital-kill-25-people-–-the-guardian

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At least 25 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in an attack on Afghanistan’s biggest military hospital, in central Kabul, on Tuesday, in which two heavy blasts were followed by an assault by gunmen, a Taliban official said.

A Taliban spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, said the explosions took place at the entrance of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital, after which gunmen opened fire. Four of the attackers were killed by Taliban security forces and a fifth was captured, he said.

The blasts add to a list of attacks and killings since the Taliban’s victory over the western-backed government in August, undermining their claim to have restored security to Afghanistan after decades of war.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s Amaq news agency said on an affiliated telegram channel. It follows a string of bombings by the group, which has emerged as the biggest threat to Taliban control of Afghanistan.

While there was no official confirmation of the casualty toll, a Taliban security official said at least 25 people had been killed and more than 50 wounded.

A health worker at the hospital, who managed to escape, said he heard a large explosion followed by a couple of minutes of gunfire. About 10 minutes later, there was a second, larger explosion, he said. He said it was not clear whether the blasts and the gunfire were inside the sprawling hospital complex.

“The IS insurgents wanted to target civilians, doctors and patients in the hospital,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, claiming that Taliban forces had repulsed the attack within 15 minutes.

Islamic State, which has carried out a series of attacks on mosques and other targets since the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul in August, mounted a complex attack on the hospital in 2017, killing more than 30 people.

The group’s attacks have caused mounting worries outside Afghanistan about the potential for the country to become a haven for militant groups, as it was when an al-Qaida group attacked the US in 2001.

The situation has been worsened by a spiralling economic crisis that has threatened millions of Afghans with poverty as winter approaches. The abrupt withdrawal of international support after the Taliban’s victory has brought Afghanistan’s fragile economy to the brink of collapse just as the country suffers a severe drought and the fear of hunger.

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