Death toll from Kabul hospital attack rises to at least 49

Daesh gunmen yesterday went through the 400-bed hospital, shooting doctors, patients and visitors.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An injured woman is pictured after she received treatment at a hospital a day after a bomb blast and gunfire at a military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 9, 2017.

The death toll from a Daesh-claimed attack on a military hospital in Kabul has risen to at least 49, Afghan officials said on Thursday.

Salim Rassouli, director of Kabul hospitals, said 49 people had been killed in the attack on the Sardar Mohammad Khan military hospital on Wednesday, with at least 63 wounded.

Some uncertainty remained over the exact figure, and one security official said more than 90 people had been wounded.

Earlier estimates had put the number of dead at more than 30 with 50 wounded.

Gunmen went through the 400-bed hospital, shooting doctors, patients and visitors and battling security forces for several hours in a sophisticated operation claimed by Daesh.

Barricaded in hospital rooms

Survivors told of barricading themselves in hospital rooms to escape the gunmen who were armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades and who began their attack after a suicide bomber blew himself up.

Mohammad Nabi, a doctor at the hospital who escaped with a broken leg, said it had been difficult to comprehend what was going on initially as the gunmen, who were wearing doctors' white coats, took out concealed weapons and began shooting.

"We were shocked when we saw AK47s in their hands firing," he said.

They killed our patients in their beds and they killed our doctors.

Increase in high-profile attacks

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.

The UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the attack and urging all states to cooperate with the Afghan government to bring those responsible to justice and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism.