Conflicts & War

Afghan government blames Taliban as death toll from attacks climbs to 56

Kabul, May 13 (efe-epa).- The Afghan government on Wednesday blamed the Taliban for two separate attacks, including the siege of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) backed hospital in Kabul and a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan, even as the combined death toll climbed to 56 a day after the incidents.

“The number of casualties increased after we collected data from all hospitals in the area of the attack and in the city” said Zahir Adil, the spokesman for the Public Health Directorate in the Nangarhar province, where the number of deaths has climbed from 24 to 32 after a suicide bomber hit the funeral of a police commander.

Adil told EFE that at least half of the 133 people injured in the attack – up from the 67 reported on Tuesday – remained hospitalized with some in a “critical condition.”

Meanwhile the number of deaths at an MSF-backed maternity clinic in western Kabul has risen to 24 after three gunmen detonated a bomb and opened fired at the facility on Tuesday.

The victims of the incident, which injured 16 people, included “mothers in beds for treatment or those who were taking care of their newborns,” Deputy Public Health Minister Wahidullah Majroh said in a press conference.

The security forces had rescued some 100 civilians, including 18 newborn babies, from the besieged hospital complex, although two newborns were killed in the attack.

“The unfortunate incident that happened yesterday in Dasht-e-Barchi hospital has been a huge loss and a main source of concern for the leadership of the Public Health Ministry and doctors of the country” Majroh said, adding that the hospital was attacked despite that fact that hospitals were “safe and protected against any form of violence according to all laws and international conventions.”

The Afghan president’s spokesperson Sediq Seddiqi blamed the Taliban for Tuesday’s attacks, even though the group has denied its involvement in both of them.

He said the Taliban can’t “disassociate” themselves from such crimes because in the past 19 years they had kept “close ties with other terrorist groups and provided safe sanctuaries for their terrorist activities inside Afghanistan.”

Seddiqi alleged that in recent months the Taliban have increased attacks against Afghan security forces and civilians, particularly after signing a peace agreement with the United States in Doha, a fact that showed they were “not honest” about peace.

“Everyday we hear from Taliban only about war, we don’t hear anything from them regarding peace, ending of war and violence. Unfortunately, we don’t see any serious commitment for ending the war from the Taliban after they signed the agreement with the US” he said.

“Continued violence by Taliban is one of the main obstacle ahead of the peace process” Seddiqi said, expressing hope that the international community – particularly the US – would apply “necessary pressure” on Taliban to accept a ceasefire and reduce violence.

He warned that otherwise the Afghan government would not “remain reluctant” in responding to their attacks.

According to data released on Wednesday by National Directorate of Security, the main intelligence agency of Afghanistan, the Taliban have carried out 3,712 attacks since signing the peace deal with the US, killing 469 civilians and injuring another 948. EFE-EPA

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