Newborns among 16 killed in attack on maternity ward in Kabul

Gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in Afghan capital Kabul, setting off an hours-long shoot-out with the police and killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers and an nurses.

In the capital, soldiers raced out of the hospital carrying infants wrapped in bloodstained blankets to waiting ambulances, after the attackers rampaged their way through the wards.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in response ordered a resumption of a full offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups, ending a period of reduced military activity ahead of US-brokered peace talks that had been expected to start this year.

A photograph showed a woman who had been killed lying on the ground still holding tightly to her newborn baby, who a nurse in the unit confirmed to Reuters news agency had survived and had been moved to an intensive care unit at another hospital.

Security forces earlier cordoned off the area as they evacuated more than 80 women and infants from the hospital.

At least three attackers wearing police uniforms entered the hospital, throwing grenades and shooting, officials told news agencies.

Also on Tuesday, in a suicide bombing in eastern Nangarhar province, an attacker targeted the Khewa-district funeral of a local pro-government militia commander and former warlord who had died of a heart attack on Monday night, said Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.

The interior ministry said the final casualty toll included 24 killed and 68 wounded. The wounded were brought to the Nangarhar provincial hospital, said hospital spokesman Gulzada Sangar.

Amnesty International condemned both the attacks.

“The unconscionable war crimes in Afghanistan today, targeting a maternity hospital and a funeral, must awaken the world to the horrors civilians continue to face,” the group tweeted.

United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey and Pakistan released statements condemning the violence.

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