Gunmen disguised as medical personnel stormed a military hospital near the US Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people in a six-hour siege before Afghan security forces killed the attackers, authorities said.
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.
First a suicide bomber blew himself up at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman. Known as “the 400-bed hospital,” it’s the country’s biggest and best-equipped medical facility.
Three gunmen then invaded the hospital, made their way to the second and third floors and opened fire, Sediqqi said. Among those killed were Afghan military personnel recovering from battle wounds, doctors and hospital employees.
Afghan security forces and police mounted a counteroffensive at the hospital. Video showed heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles surrounding the facility and a helicopter landing on its roof and discharging soldiers.
Soldiers killed the attackers around 3:30 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday ET) after six hours of fighting.
As soldiers cleared the building, they discovered bodies and the number of casualties quickly grew.
More than 50 people were wounded and taken to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, said Smael Kawosi, media relation officer for the Ministry of Health. It’s not known if any security personnel or police officers were killed.
The Taliban has claimed credit for other recent attacks. But a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mojahid, denied responsibility for this rampage in a tweet, saying: “Today’s attack on hospital in Kabul has nothing to do with the Mujahidin of Islamic Emirate,” using the group’s formal name.
In the vacuum of a Taliban claim, Amaq said ISIS claimed responsibility. Though it is credible that ISIS planned and carried out the attack, CNN has not independently verified the claim.
This is not the first attack at the hospital named after Afghanistan’s first president. In May 2011, suicide bombers got inside, and killed six people and injured 26 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
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SOURCE: CNN, Ehsan Popalzai and Ralph Ellis