Gunmen attack Afghan hospital where MSF aid group runs a clinic

Series of bloody attacks have taken place in the capital in recent months claimed by the militant Islamic State group

Reuters May 12, 2020
Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan May 12, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL: Gunmen attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday where the international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic, officials said.

There was no immediate information about any casualties in the attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital, or any claim of responsibility but the Taliban said they were not involved.

The 100-bed government-run facility is supported by Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health.

Security forces were working to counter the attack and the deputy health minister may have been visiting the clinic at the time, an interior ministry source said.

Two other security sources said that explosions had been heard at the site.

MSF did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It says on its website it operates a maternity clinic at the hospital in one of Kabul’s poorest neighbourhoods.

A series of bloody attacks have taken place in the capital in recent months claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

On Monday, security forces said they had arrested three senior militant Islamic State members including a regional leader.

Last week, security forces killed and arrested several members of a militant Islamic State cell that authorities said was responsible for several high-profile attacks in Kabul including one on a Sikh temple in March.

Roadside blasts in the capital on Monday, which wounded four civilians, were claimed by the group.

Afghanistan is also facing violence around the country from the Taliban even as the United States tries to usher in peace talks after signing a troop withdrawal agreement in February with the militants.

The Taliban say they are holding back from attacking urban centres and their operations are aimed at government security forces.