Is­lamic State gun­men kill 30 in Kabul hos­pi­tal

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Rahim Faiez and Amir Shah

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.”

RAHMAT GUL / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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