Published: Thu, March 09, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Explosion and gunfire rock Kabul military hospital as militants storm the facility

Explosion and gunfire rock Kabul military hospital as militants storm the facility

Several gunmen, including at least one dressed as a doctor, attacked a military hospital in an area close to the US Embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul. One security official said the attackers were disguised in white doctors' uniforms.

The ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq said the terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest at a public building in Kabul's heavily fortified diplomatic quarter.

It was not immediately clear how many people might have been killed or wounded.

The attack comes while Taliban has warned Daesh's ringleader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, against waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan.

In a written statement, the ministry "strongly condemned the heinous attack" on the hospital "where people in need of care were receiving treatment".

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Three British Royal Navy ships were escorting the American ship, and all four vessels had to change direction. The USNS Invincible is equipped with powerful radar equipment that can follow ballistic missile trajectories.

At least two other loud explosions - including what the defence ministry called a auto bomb in the hospital's parking lot - were heard as Afghan special forces launched a clearance operation that lasted around six hours. A recent report by the organization Watchlist details some 240 attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed or injured medical personnel and closed, damaged, or destroyed medical facilities, eroding the healthcare system in Afghanistan.

The attack on the 400-bed military hospital, the largest in Afghanistan, began at about 9am when a suicide bomber walked up to the back entrance and blew himself up.

Afghan security forces and counterterrorism units quickly reached the site.

President Ashraf Ghani, who was speaking in his palace at a ceremony honoring International Women's Day when the attack occurred, altered his speech to urge women to stand up to such attacks. As fighting went on, a second explosion was heard from the hospital.

The growing violence underscores rising insecurity in Afghanistan over the resurgent Taliban.

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