India slams Kabul hospital terror strike that killed 11 mothers, 2 newborns

India on Tuesday condemned the terrorist attack at a maternity clinic in Kabul that killed 16 people including 11 mothers and 2 babies. An external ministry statement described the attack as “barbaric”.

A group of terrorists had stormed a maternity hospital in western part of Kabul and opened fire. A gunfight with security forces ensued. When it ended several hours later, officials confirmed that 16 people had died and an equal number were injured.

Counter-terror officials Kabul said 11 mothers and at least two newborn babies were among the dead.

“Such reprehensible attacks, including on mothers, newly-born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday evening.

“The perpetrators of such heinous acts and their sponsors and supporters should be held accountable and brought to justice. They should be forced to eradicate safe havens and sanctuaries that have abetted terrorism in the region for decades and caused immense miseries to untold number of people in the region,” New Delhi said in an unusually sharp reaction, that one official said, matches the brutality of the terror strike.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul, where both the Taliban and the Islamic State Khorasan Province frequently target Afghan military and security forces, as well as civilians.

The Taliban denied they were involved.

Counter-terror officials in Delhi and Kabul signalled they would let the investigators complete the probe before arriving at any conclusions. The Taliban had denied involvement in the March 25 Kabul gurdwara attack also. But the Afghan security forces last week busted a module being jointly run by the ISKP and the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network that has strong ties to Pakistan’s deep state. This joint module was responsible for the March 25 gurdwara attack, the Afghan forces had said.

Tuesday’s attack provoked Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani to deliver a televised address to the nation that ordered security forces to end their “active defence position” and “return to offensive postures, and resume their operations against the enemy.”

Also Read: What the Afghan peace deal means | Opinion

While the firefight at Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi hospital was underway, a suicide bomber targeted a funeral ceremony in Nangahar province - a hotbed of the Islamic State group - killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. There was a third attack on an Army check post in Laghman province.

Tuesday’s terror attacks could jeopardise a tottering peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in February. But the pact has not stopped attacks on Afghan security personnel and other civilian targets.

In its statement, New Delhi said the holy month of Ramzan should be a period of fasting, prayer and reflection. “We call for an immediate cessation of terrorist violence and cooperation to deal with the humanitarian situation arising from the spread of coronavirus in Afghanistan,” the external affairs ministry said.


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