Gunmen raid Kabul hospital, leave 38 dead

GUNMEN disguised as doctors stormed Afghanistan's largest military hospital yesterday, killing at least 38 people in a six-hour attack claimed by the Islamic State group as it makes inroads into the war-battered country.

Defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the attack was suppressed by mid-afternoon, with all three gunmen killed.

Despite repeated strikes by USA and Afghan forces which American commanders believe have killed a third of their fighters, they have also claimed several high-profile attacks in Kabul that have killed scores of people.

"All of the victims are patients, visitors and..."

Mohammad Nabi, a doctor at the hospital who escaped with a broken leg, said it had been hard to comprehend what was going on initially as the gunmen in doctors' white coats took out concealed weapons and began shooting. The attack on Afghanistan's largest military hospital, close to the heavily fortified US embassy, underlined warnings from security officials of an increase in high profile attacks in Kabul this year.

It took Afghan special forces several hours to neutralize the attackers. Heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles surrounded the facility, a helicopter landed on the roof and a few patients climbed out of windows and stood on a ledge to escape the violence, video shows.

The attack came just a week after dozens of people were killed and wounded in coordinated attacks on a police station and an office of the intelligence service in Kabul.

The exact number of individual casualties and wounded is not yet known.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the attack shows terrorists "don't follow rules and laws".

Earlier, the Afghanistan Taliban distanced itself from the attack and a spokesperson said the group had "no connection" to the assault.

A statement from ISIS's Amaq News Agency said its fighters had attacked the hospital, while an Afghan Taliban spokesman denied responsibility, saying the Islamist insurgency had "no connection" with the attack.

  • Leroy Wright