Kabul: Afghanistan’s capital was hit by two blasts near a military hospital on Tuesday, Taliban officials said, with a witness also reporting gunfire.
“I am inside the hospital. I heard a big explosion coming from the first checkpoint. We were told to go to safe rooms. I also hear guns firing,” a doctor at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul told AFP. AFP journalists heard a second blast minutes later.
A Taliban media spokesman confirmed both explosions.
“One explosion has happened at the gate of the military hospital and second somewhere near the hospital, this is our initial information, we will provide more details later,” he told AFP.
Interior ministry spokesman Qari Saeed Khosty said the explosions took place at the entrance of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital. “Security forces have been deployed to the area,” he said on Twitter.
Photographs shared by residents showed a plume of smoke over the area of the blasts near the former diplomatic zone in the Wazir Akbar Khan area in central Kabul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the official Bakhtar news agency quoted witnesses saying a number of Islamic State fighters entered the hospital and clashed with security forces.
The blasts add to a growing list of attacks and killings since the Taliban completed their victory over the previous Western-backed government in August, undermining their claim to have restored security to Afghanistan after decades of war.
Islamic State, which has carried out a series of attacks on mosques and other targets since the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul in August, mounted a complex attack on the 400-bed hospital in 2017, killing more than 30 people.
A health worker at the hospital, who managed to escape the site, said he heard a large explosion followed by a couple of minutes of gunfire. About ten minutes later, there was a second, larger explosion, he said.
He said it was unclear whether the blasts and the gunfire were inside the sprawling hospital complex, the largest military hospital in Afghanistan.
Islamic State, which has carried out a series of attacks on mosques and other targets since the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul in August, attacked the 400-bed hospital in 2017, killing more than 30 people.