More than 30 people were killed Wednesday in an attack on the main military hospital in Afghanistan, in the heart of Kabul, stormed by a commando of Islamist insurgents disguised as doctors.
It was not until six hours later, in the middle of the afternoon, that the Afghan special forces, deposited by helicopter on the roof of the establishment, stormed.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman General Daud Waziri, most of the victims, including more than 50 wounded, were “patients, doctors and nurses”.
Taken under fire by four assailants, all killed by the security forces, the 400-bed hospital and its occupants lived a day of terror in the fury and the sound of detonations and automatic weapons fire.
Around 9 o’clock the first explosion, triggered by a suicide bomber at the rear entrance of the establishment, resounded, which opened the way for the commando.
Televisions showed civilians, some in white coats, refugees on the roof of the building, others seeking shelter in the corridors and outside windows.
I was in the locker room, I saw a man dressed as a doctor who was shooting with an AK-47 on the guards and patients on the third floor,” a nurse, Abdul Qadeer, told AFP. “I managed to escape by climbing the barbed wire, but my friend was hit.”
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the operation on the Telegram encrypted message.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban have denied any involvement on Twitter – but sources in the security services told AFP to be skeptical about both this denial and the claim of the IA.
By the window
According to General Waziri, the assailants were “armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades.”
“I was on the third floor, attackers dressed in white medical blouses managed to make their way from the back,” one of the doctors told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“When the shooting started, I ran into the corridors, it was panic among the staff and the visitors. I have seen several fall. They were shooting at everything that was moving. ”
“I took refuge in resuscitation and when I saw that there was no other way out I jumped out the window,” he added, stating that he broke his leg when he fell.
Until the middle of the day, there were numerous shots, explosions and grenades, as well as the sirens of the ambulances. At least one deflagration came from a car bomb that exploded without causing casualties on the hospital parking lot, according to the Defense spokesman.
“Pray for us”
A few minutes after the start of the attack, a doctor had expressed his distress on Facebook: “The assailants entered the hospital, pray for us.”
The Sardar Daud Khan Hospital is known for treating all war-wounded, both Afghan and insurgent forces.
The head of the executive, Abdullah Abdullah, promised to “never forgive these criminals”.
The operation comes a week after a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban on 1 March against two security services in Kabul, police and intelligence office (NDS); They had officially 16 dead and more than a hundred wounded.
On Tuesday night, two rocket attacks targeted the same area, near the US Embassy in Kabul, according to Western sources.
Western embassies in the residential district of Wazir Akhbar Khan, a few hundred meters from the hospital attacked, were placed on alert Wednesday.
The last major insurgent attack against an Afghan hospital was in June 2011: 38 people, mostly women and babies in the maternity ward, had been killed in a suicide car bombing in Logar province. 75 km south of Kabul.
The Taliban then denied any involvement in the attack and condemned it.