A week of carnage leaves Afghanistan in shock

 Afghan forces guard Dashti Barchi maternity clinic in the aftermath of the attack Afghan forces guard Dashti Barchi maternity clinic in the aftermath of the attack REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

15 May 2020

Three attacks kill at least 61 people over the week. Among the victims: newborns, children, women and nurses

On Tuesday 12 May, two brutal attacks killed at least 56 in Afghanistan. The first and most shocking occurred in the Afghan capital, Kabul where three gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders. The attackers shot mothers, newborns, children and nurses, killing 24 people. The motives remain unclear and no armed group has claimed the attack yet. The clinic is located in Dashti Barchi, a neighbourhood mainly populated by the Shia minority. On the same day, a suicide blast killed 32 civilians attending a funeral in eastern Nangarhar. The latter was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Reacting to the attacks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated publicly his intention to “switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one” against the enemies. In a televised speech on Tuesday, Ghani said he considered the Taliban responsible for the hospital attack, even though the group denied any involvement. The latest events raised serious concerns on the fate of the stalled US brokered peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government. Tension kept escalating when on Thursday a car-bomb exploded near a military court in the city of Gardez, killing at least five people and wounding 14. The latest attack was claimed by Taliban insurgents.

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the man behind the U.S.-Taliban deal signed in February, blamed ISIL for the hospital attack. Afghan officials showed signs of irritation for the declaration of Khalilzad and kept on blaming the Taliban group. Many U.S., Afghan and European officials declared to Reuters in condition of anonymity that the latest events where likely to undermine the peace process and to further escalate tension between the warring parties. Meanwhile, the international community condemned the attacks, with Amnesty International addressing them as “unconscionable war crimes”. Germany, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Pakistan also released official statements condemning the violence.


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Author: Annette Savoca

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