The death toll from a Tuesday attack on a maternity ward in in Kabul has risen to 24, with another sixteen injured. The operation, combined with another mass-casualty event at a funeral in the eastern city of Nangahar, has caused Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to resume military operations against the Taliban and related militant groups.
At least three gunmen dressed as police officers stormed a maternity clinic, attacking mothers, infants, and medical staff with grenades and guns.
The Doctors Without Borders-run facility in Dashti Barchi, a settlement in western Kabul, has been a destination site for new parents in the area and at the time of the attack housed 140 medical personnel, women, and infants. Police responded, with western-trained special forces arranging the safe evacuation of more than a hundred people and engaging the attackers. All known assailants were killed.
The attack happened around 10 AM. The hospital serves primarily Shia Muslims, while the Tailban and Islamic State are both Sunni Muslim.
Unlike the funeral attack which was subsequently claimed by Islamic State representatives, there has not been an admission of culpability for the maternity ward attack, but the sect differences and the coordination of multiple assailants strongly suggest at least one organized Sunni group was responsible.
An Islamic State leader had been arrested in Kabul on Monday, as well as two high-profile subordinates. That appears to have been the stated motivation for the funeral bombing, and may have inspired the hospital murders as well. The Taliban, meanwhile, has recently resumed attacks against the Afghan leadership and has a history of attacking hospitals, as demonstrated in a November story from the BBC.
The attack in November happened after an attempt by President Trump to bring Taliban leaders to Camp David over the September 11th anniversary weekend in 2019 (which Trump personally admitted, video from the Politico). Secret negotiations continued throughout bombings such as November hospital attack, with the US announcing a pullout from their support of Afghan forces in late February and pressuring President Ghani to end operations against the Taliban.