Press "Enter" to skip to content

19 dead in IS suicide attack on Kabul military hospital

Emal Haidary – Agence France-Presse

November 3, 2021 | 8:30am

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 19 people were killed and 50 more wounded in an attack on a military hospital in Kabul on Tuesday, the latest atrocity to rock Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power.

The Taliban’s rivals, the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for the gun and bomb assault in the centre of the capital.

Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) said in a statement on its Telegram channels that “five Islamic State group fighters carried out simultaneous coordinated attacks” on the sprawling site.

“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.

As part of the response, he said, Taliban “special forces” were dropped onto the roof of the hospital from one of the helicopters that the group seized from Afghanistan’s former US-backed government.

The attack got under way when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the facility’s entrance. Gunmen then broke into the hospital grounds, firing their weapons.

“Nineteen dead bodies and about 50 wounded people have been taken to hospitals in Kabul,” a health ministry official who asked not to be named told AFP.

Mujahid played down the death toll, but confirmed that two Taliban fighters, two women and a child had been killed outside the hospital.

One woman who had been trapped in the hospital when the attack began told AFP how she and her friend “felt we were going to die, that our lives were ending”.

“There was a blast at the door,” Rowana Dawari, a poet and lecturer, told AFP.

“Daesh came and started firing, we were stuck. We heard firing, glass breaking. We locked ourselves in a bathroom,” she said, referring to IS by its local name.

“Later, Taliban came and we saw they were with our doctors, so we knew it was OK.”

Amanudhin, a 28-year-old cleaner at the hospital, pushed an elderly, frail and partially sighted patient, Mariam, away from the scene in a wheelchair.

“The explosion happened and after a while people started screaming ‘Daesh is here’,” he told AFP. “We heard a lot of firing.

“We were in the 7th floor and locked ourselves in a room. There were injured people everywhere. Broken glass.”

They hid until Taliban fighters came to rescue them: “They were special forces, professionals, they broke the door and got inside.”

Going ‘room to room

The Taliban spent 20 years waging an insurgency against the ousted US-backed government.

Now they face the struggle of bringing stability to Afghanistan, which has been hit in recent weeks by a series of bloody assaults claimed by the Islamic State group’s local chapter.

“All the attackers are dead. The attack was initiated by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle who blew himself up at the entrance of the hospital,” a Taliban official from the government media team said.

Two explosions targeted the hospital area, he had earlier said in a statement.

AFP staff in the city heard a second explosion some 30 minutes after the first was reported.

“I heard a big explosion coming from the first checkpoint. We were told to go to safe rooms. I also hear guns firing,” a doctor at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital told AFP while the attack was being carried out.

“I can still hear gun firing inside the hospital building. I think the attackers are going from room to room… like the first time it was attacked,” the doctor added.

Ambulances speeding through Kabul

The hospital, which treats wounded soldiers from both the Taliban and former Afghan security forces, was previously attacked in 2017, when gunmen disguised as medical personnel killed at least 30 people in an hours-long siege. 

Although both IS and the Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamist militants, they differ on details of religion and strategy.

IS have claimed four mass casualty attacks since the Taliban takeover on August 15, including suicide bomb blasts targeting Shiite Muslim mosques. The group regards Shiite Muslims as heretics.

The 2017 attack was also claimed by the Islamic State group, and the Taliban denied responsibility.

Pictures shared on social media on Tuesday showed black smoke billowing into the air after the explosions, the first of which went off at around 1:00 pm (0830 GMT).

Roads close to the heavily fortified “Green Zone” where the buildings of several former Western embassies were located were closed off to traffic and Taliban guards scaled up searches.

The US State Department condemned the attack, spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet Tuesday evening. 

“We mourn those killed and offer our condolences to their loved ones,” he said. “Targeting medical professionals and patients is abhorrent and has no justification.”

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: November 3, 2021 – 8:16am

Get the latest news as Taliban gains control of Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Al Jazeera/AFP

November 3, 2021 – 8:16am

The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group claims the bombing of a military hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday that killed at least 19 people and wounded 50 more.

In a statement released on its Telegram channels, the jihadist group — rivals of the Taliban — says that “five Islamic State group fighters carried out simultaneous coordinated attacks” on the sprawling site.

It says that one jihadist detonated an explosive belt at the entrance of the hospital before other militants stormed the facility and opened fire. — AFP

November 3, 2021 – 7:34am

Afghanistan’s Taliban government announces a ban on the use of foreign currencies on Tuesday, threatening further disruption to an already ailing economy.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid declares that from now on anyone using foreign currency for domestic business would be prosecuted. 

“The economic situation and national interests in the country require that all Afghans use the Afghani currency in every transaction,” he says. 

“The Islamic Emirate instructs all citizens, shopkeepers, traders, businessmen and the general public to henceforth conduct all transactions in Afghanis and strictly refrain from using foreign currency.” — AFP

October 31, 2021 – 2:55pm

Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada addressed supporters in the southern city of Kandahar, officials announced Sunday, his first public appearance since taking control of the group in 2016.  

Akhundzada has been the spiritual chief of the Islamist movement since 2016 but has remained a reclusive figure, even after his group seized power in Afghanistan in August.

His low profile has fed speculation about his role in the new Taliban government — and even rumors of his death.

On Saturday, he visited the Darul Uloom Hakimah madrassa to “speak to his brave soldiers and disciples”, according to Taliban officials.

There was tight security at the event and no photographs or video have emerged, but a 10-minute audio recording was shared by Taliban social media accounts.

In it, Akhundzada — referred to as “Amirul Momineen”, or commander of the faithful — gives a religious message.

The speech did not touch on political organisation, but sought God’s blessing for the Taliban leadership. — AFP

October 20, 2021 – 6:00pm

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recognizes Taliban “efforts” to try and stabilize the situation in volatile Afghanistan as Moscow hosted the Islamist regime for international talks. 

“A new administration is in power now,” Lavrov tells the gathering. “We note their efforts to stabilize the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus.” — AFP

October 19, 2021 – 9:05am

Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran US envoy whose months of diplomacy failed to prevent the Taliban from taking power in Afghanistan, resigned on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Khalilzad’s departure, saying that the envoy’s deputy, Thomas West, would take over. — AFP

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *