Militants stormed a maternity hospital Tuesday in the western part of Kabul, Afghanistan, setting off an hourslong shootout with police and killing 14 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers, and nurses, Afghan officials say. The AP reports that while the battle was underway, Afghan security forces struggled to evacuate the facility, carrying out babies and frantic young mothers, per images shared by the Interior Ministry. Soon after the attack started, black smoke rose into the sky over the hospital in Dashti Barchi, a mostly Shiite neighborhood that has been the site of many past attacks by Islamic State militants. Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said more than 100 women and babies were evacuated from the building before it was over, including three foreign nationals. Arian said 15 others, including women, men, and children, were wounded in the attack.
It was unclear why the 100-bed hospital was targeted—an attack Arian said was an "act against humanity and a war crime." No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul, where both the Taliban and ISIS frequently target Afghan military and security forces, as well as civilians. The Taliban denied they were involved. "The forces are trying to eliminate the terrorists and bring the situation under control," said Arian while the battle was ongoing. A few hours after the attack started, the ministry released a statement saying all three attackers were dead. The foreign ministry of neighboring Pakistan said both that attack and one Tuesday on a funeral in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, in which 24 were killed and 68 wounded, "are particularly despicable as they take place in the holy month of Ramadan and at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic."
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