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Newborns among 14 killed in attack on Afghan maternity ward

No group has claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on a Kabul hospital, but the area has been plagued by ISIS-linked militants before.

© REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail  Afghan security forces arrive at the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan May 12, 2020.

By Ahmad Mukhtar, CBS News

Insurgents stormed a maternity ward in a hospital in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, leaving 14 people dead, including two newborns and some mothers and nurses. Tariq Aryan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said 15 more were wounded in the attack.

The ministry said all of the attackers had been killed.

International humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders runs the maternity clinic in the hospital, and an official with the organization said foreign doctors were operating there at the time of the attack. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity and would not elaborate on the nationality of the doctors.

Afghan special forces were dispatched to quell the attack and managed to help get about 100 people, including babies, women, children and three foreign nationals to safety, according to Aryan.

The 100-bed hospital is located in the western part of Kabul, in a predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood where ISIS-affiliated militants have carried out several deadly attacks in the past. The Taliban has denied responsibility for Tuesday's attack.

Afghan police shared photos from the operation that showed newborn babies being evacuated during the siege by police, some of them covered in blood.

Kabul resident Daoud Jalal posted a video showing a member of the special forces rushing a newborn infant to an ambulance and commented: "Welcome to Afghanistan, dear infant. We kill each other here. All of us are sorry to you. This is not how you should open your eyes. Sounds of explosions and screams should not be the first thing you hear."

Another attack on Tuesday, in the country's eastern Nangarhar province, left at least 15 people dead and 56 more wounded. Provincial government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said it wasn't immediately clear if the blast was from a planted bomb or a suicide attacker, but that it targeted a funeral ceremony for a local official.

A member of the Nangarhar provincial council was among those killed and a member of Afghanistan's lower house of parliament was wounded.


Prisoner swap

The Afghan government announced on Monday, meanwhile, a temporarily halt to the ongoing release of Taliban prisoners, citing a lack of balance in the agreed exchange of detainees under the deal reached between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the office Afghanistan's National Security Advisor, said the Taliban should have released around 200 members of the Afghan Security forces under the agreement by this week.

"The Taliban have to clarify to us and everyone" the status of some 610 Afghan national security forces still missing, Faisal said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told CBS News the group did not have an exact number of the government prisoners still being held by the group. Mujahid said they had released 253 members of the security forces so far, but the government rejects that claim and says most of those released by the Taliban have been civilians.

The United States and the Taliban agreed the terms of the prisoner swap after months of negotiations in Doha, Qatar. Under the deal struck in February, 5,000 Taliban prisoners were to be set free in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces within 10 days of the agreement.

However, President Ashraf Ghani refused to free the Taliban militants all at once, and instead issued a decree to release the inmates in several phases.

Afghanistan's national government is currently in a state of political deadlock following a disputed election last year, which has been complicated further by the coronavirus pandemic paralyzing the country economically.

Read more at CBS News

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dearJulius.com News | Breaking News, US News, World News: Newborns among 14 killed in attack on Afghan maternity ward
Newborns among 14 killed in attack on Afghan maternity ward
No group has claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on a Kabul hospital, but the area has been plagued by ISIS-linked militants before.
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