In a wave of attacks yesterday, armed gunmen targeted a maternity hospital in Kabul, killing mostly pregnant women and children. Initial reports indicated that more than 15 people died in the attack on the hospital, including two newborn babies. The number of those dead in the attack stands at 24 now.
In the last two days, there have been five attacks in Kabul alone and one major attack in the eastern province of Nangarhar. The attackers in the Nangarhar targeted the funeral of a local police chief that left more than 25 dead and 60 wounded.
Afghan and global leaders reacted to the attack on the maternity hospital, questioning the will of the Taliban for peace in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban leadership’s power to stop or reduce violence in the country.
In response to these attacks, President Ashraf Ghani, in an address to the nation ended the “active defense” position of the Afghan forces and ordered the military to return to “offensive operations.”
Ghani noted that the Taliban has rejected their repeated calls for a ceasefire and have increased their attacks. He said that calls for ceasefire do not only come from the Afghan government, but that the Afghan civilians have asked for the ceasefire repeatedly and their calls have been rejected too.
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The first vice president to Ghani, Amrullah Saleh, reacted to the attack on Twitter:
“Terrorist Taliban, their current or former allies or their ideological twins attacked a maternity hospital and a funeral procession killing mothers, newborn babies and innocent civilians. This is the behavior of the changed Taliban after they took courses on humane conduct in Doha.”
And national security advisor to the president, Hamdullah Mohib wrote, “The Afghan government and our international partners have a responsibility to hold the Taliban and their sponsors accountable. The reason to pursue peace is to end this senseless violence. This is not peace, nor its beginnings.”
He added that, “The attacks of the last two months show us and the world that Taliban and their sponsors do not and did not intend to pursue peace.”
In response to the “heinous attacks,” president of the Feminist Majority Foundation Eleanor Smeal said:
“The Taliban atrocities against Afghan women have simply not stopped. It gets worse and worse as it can be seen by the attacks of maternity hospital in Kabul today. The U.S. must not desert Afghan women. The so-called peace deal between the US and the Taliban simply did not work.”
A number of embassies, including the U.S. embassy in Kabul condemned the attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar.
A number of international organizations, including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International South Asia condemned the attacks too.
Amnesty International South Asia wrote, “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. There must be accountability for these grave crimes, and civilians must be protected.”