Gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in the western part of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Tuesday, setting off an hours-long shoot-out with the police and killing 16 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers and an unspecified number of nurses.

The interior ministry released images showing young children lying dead inside the hospital, and a dead woman lying on the ground still holding tightly to her baby, who had survived.

It is unclear why the hospital, where medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) runs a maternity clinic, was attacked.

Officials said that at least three attackers wearing police uniforms entered the hospital, throwing grenades and shooting. Security forces earlier cordoned off the area.

The neighbourhood is home to many members of Afghanistan’s Hazara community, a mostly Shia Muslim minority that has been attacked by ISIS in the past, including at a Kabul ceremony commemorating the death of one of its leaders in March.

Also on Tuesday, at least 24 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a suicide blast claimed by ISIS at a funeral in eastern Afghanistan.

ISIS made no mention of the attack against the maternity hospital when it claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted the funeral.

President Ashraf Ghani says Afghanistan’s security forces will go on the offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups following the attacks. The Taliban, which denied involvement in either attack, responded that it was “fully prepared” to repel any military offensive.


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