An explosion and gunfire has been reported at Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Military Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A doctor from the hospital said that a blast occurred at the entrance gate of the hospital and the attackers then entered inside the building.
However, no insurgent group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault on the hospital, but it comes as the Taliban ramp up attacks even before the start of their annual spring offensive. No casualties were immediately reported but medical staff trapped in the facility posted desperate messages for help on social media.
A security official said the attack began with an explosion at the rear of the 400-bed hospital and three to five attackers with automatic weapons and hand grenades entered the complex.
He said they had taken position on the third and fourth floors of the hospital and were engaging Special Forces units which had been sent to the scene.
The attack on the hospital, across the road from the heavily fortified US embassy, underlines warnings by government officials that high profile attacks in Kabul are likely to escalate this year as the Taliban step up their insurgency.
One worker at the hospital, Abdul Qadir, told that he saw one gunman, dressed in a white doctor’s coat, take out a concealed AK-47 assault rifle and open fire, killing at least one patient and one hospital worker.
In the second attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of an Afghan intelligence agency branch in eastern Kabul.
The growing violence underscores rising insecurity in Afghanistan over the resurgent Taliban.
The country is bracing for an intense fighting season in the spring as the government’s repeated bids to launch peace negotiations with the Taliban have failed.
Afghan forces, already beset by record casualties, desertions and non-existent “ghost soldiers” on the payrolls, have been struggling to rein in the Taliban since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.
The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission In Afghanistan reaffirmed support to the Afghan security institutions following a deadly attack on a military hospital in capital Kabul.
“We are aware of the report of Kabul hospital attack & are monitoring the situation. We stand ready to assist Afghan security services,” the alliance said in a Twitter post.
The alliance went on to say “Once again insurgents show complete disrespect for humanity by attacking a hospital. We stand with Afghan people against terrorism.”
“The attack on the Charsad Bester Military hospital is reprehensible and we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms,” the alliance added.