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Militant Attack At Afghan Hospital Kills At Least Four

At least four people have been killed in a militant attack taking place at a hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Locals heard two blasts, then gunfire. About 140 staff were inside at the time. Many are still trapped and children are among the injured.

Part of the hospital is run by the international medical charity, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and some of those working there are foreigners. Meanwhile, in the east, an attack at a police funeral has killed at least 21.

Dozens more were injured in that bomb blast and casualty numbers in both attacks could rise. It is not clear who carried out either attack.

In Kabul, special forces and other security personnel have brought 80 people, including women and children, to safety. At least five people have been injured, including two children, the Interior Ministry said.

Images from the scene of the attack showed soldiers carrying one newborn baby to safety, swaddled in a blood-stained blanket. It is not clear if the infant had been injured.

It said three attackers attacked the hospital at around 10:00 local time (05:30 GMT). Officials say one attacker has been killed.

The Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital has a maternity wing run by MSF. Many foreign staff live in a guesthouse behind the hospital building and a doctor who fled the building told the BBC he saw an explosion there too.

The Taliban, who signed a withdrawal agreement with the United States more than two months ago, have denied involvement. In the past, similar attacks on foreign and other civilians in this mostly Shia area of the capital have been attributed to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has not yet issued a statement.

In 2017, IS gunmen disguised as medical staff attacked Kabul’s main military hospital, prompting widespread shock and anger and raising questions about security. The authorities said about 50 people were killed. But the Taliban also attack hospitals. Last September, 20 people died after a truck packed with explosives was detonated by militants from the group outside a hospital in southern Zabul province.

In the eastern province of Nangarhar, a member of the provincial council was among those killed in the attack on Tuesday on the funeral procession of a local police commander.

Ataullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor, said another 55 people were injured. The Taliban have denied carrying out the attack, although it remains unclear who was behind it and the group have denied responsibility in the past for attacks they are accused of.

In northern Balkh province, at least 10 people have been killed and as many others injured in an air strike by US forces, reports say.
Local residents and the Taliban claim the victims were all civilians. But the Afghan Defence Ministry said all those killed were militants.

Since the February peace deal, talks have broken down over a prisoner swap agreed between the US and the Taliban and violence has continued unabated. IS were not part of the negotiations. The agreement was aimed at ending more than 18 years of war since US-led forces ousted the Taliban from power following the 9/11 attacks on the US, whose mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the hardline Islamist group. Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict. Many more have been injured or displaced from their homes.