US blames horrific Kabul maternity hospital attack on IS

US blames horrific Kabul maternity hospital attack on IS, urges continued intra-Afghan peace efforts
2 min read
The United States has claimed the vicious attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul was perpetrated by Islamic State militants.
The attack killed dozens [Getty]

The US on Thursday blamed a horrific attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul on Islamic State group militants and not the Taliban, as was initially suspected.

The attack killed 24 people, including two newborn babies,
and has been described by human rights groups as a "war crime".

Washington also renewed called for Afghans to push for peace with the Taliban insurgency.

This comes as the Kabul government decided to resume offensive operations against the Taliban in the region – a move that pushes the violence further inland.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the military on Tuesday to switch to “offensive mode” against the Taliban following the attack on a maternity hospital run by international aid organisation Medecins sans Frontiere (MSF).

There was also a suicide bombing in Nangarhar province at the same time which killed tens of people.

Taking to Twitter, US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad blamed IS for both attacks.

“Rather than falling into the ISIS trap and delay peace or create obstacles, Afghans must come together to crush this menace and pursue a historic peace opportunity,” Khalilzad said.

“No more excuses. Afghans, and the world, deserve better.”

An affiliate of IS claimed responsibility for the Nangarhar bombing, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, but nobody has claimed responsibility for the Kabul hospital attack.

In turn the Taliban denied involvement in both attacks, but the government accused the group of creating an environment in which terrorism can grow, and of working with other military groups who may have been involved.

Meanwhile, US Donald Trump keeps pushing back plans to bring peace to Afghanistan. On 29 February, a US-Taliban deal called for a phased US troop withdrawal from the country, and in return for the Taliban to release prisoners by 10 March, when peace talks were meant to start.

Taliban violence

The Taliban said it carried out a deadly attack Thursday on an Afghan army base after the government ordered forces to resume strikes against the militants.

Afghan officials said a vehicle carrying a bomb targeted an army base in the eastern city of Gardez, killing five civilians and wounding 19 - including five army personnel.

Read More: Women for Afghan Women: Escaping the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence
Provincial health director Welayat Khan Ahmadzai confirmed the death toll, but the Taliban claimed "tens of soldiers were killed and wounded", and denied reports that civilians were killed.

"After the announcement of the offensive... a martyrdom attack was carried out against an important military headquarters of the Kabul administration," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a WhatsApp message to the media.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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