Islamic State gunmen kill 30 in Kabul hospital
Gunmen KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — wearing white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan’s capital on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people and wounding dozens in an attack claimed by the Islamic State.
The attack on the 400bed military facility, located near two civilian hospitals in Kabul’s heavily guarded diplomatic quarter, set off clashes with security forces that lasted several hours.
The brazen assault reflected the capability of militant groups in Afghanistan to stage large-scale and complex attacks in the heart of Kabul, underscoring the challenges the government continues to face to improve security for ordinary Afghans.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said there were “more than 30 killed and more than 50 wounded” in the attack. Afghan forces battled the attackers floor by floor, he added.
The ministry said the attackers were dressed like health workers.
According to Waziri, four gunmen were involved, including two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives vests once the group was inside the hospital.
The two other attackers were shot dead by security forces, the spokesman said. A member of the security forces was killed in the shootout and three other security officers were wounded.
Along with the suicide vests, the attackers had AK-47 rifles and hand grenades, Waziri said.
The assault lasted for several hours, with Afghan helicopters circling over the hospital building, troops rappelling onto rooftops and security forces going floorby-floor in a gunbattle with the attackers.
Abdul Qadir, a hospital worker who witnessed the attack, said an attacker in a white coat shot at him and his colleagues.
Ghulam Azrat, another survivor, said he escaped through a fourth-floor window after attackers killed two of his friends.
The Islamic State claimed the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.
An affiliate of the extremist group has carried out a number of attacks in Afghanistan in the last two years, and has clashed with the more powerful and well-established Taliban, who carried out another complex attack in Kabul last week.
Mohammad Nahim, a restaurant worker in Kabul, said he worries that Islamic State militants are getting stronger.
“Daesh has no mercy on the humanity,” he added, using an Arabic name for the group.
Afghan security forces have struggled to combat both groups since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to an advisory and counterterrorism role.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned Wednesday’s attack during an address in honor of International Women’s Day, calling it “an attack on all Afghan people and all Afghan women.”
Afghans cry after an attack Wednesday on a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. After gunmen wearing white lab coats stormed the hospital, Afghan forces battled the attackers floor by floor, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman.