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Gunmen disguised as medics storm Kabul hospital, killing 30

Gunmen disguised as medics stormed a military hospital in Kabul early Wednesday, launching an hours-long attack that left 30 dead in Afghanistan’s capital.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack on Sardar Daud Khan hospital, which injured more than 50, a government official told Reuters.

The attack began on the hospital around 9 a.m. local time, when a suicide bomber blew open the hospital gate, the Washington Post reported. Over the next seven hours, gunmen worked through the hospital floor by floor, opening fire on hospital staff as well as patients.

Afghan security forces were dropped onto the roof from helicopters, Reuters reported, and also surrounded the entrance of the hospital, located near a key military base.

By 4 p.m. locally, all four gunmen were killed by security forces, Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs, said in a tweet..

“Targeting a medical facility providing care for the brave Afghans working to protect their fellow citizens has no possible justification in any religion or creed,” the U.S. embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

An Afghan security force member stands guard outside a military hospital at the site of blast and gunfire in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo by Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

The attack comes a week after the Taliban claimed responsibility for a series of attacks across the city, including at a police facility, that wounded at least 35 people, Reuters reported. There were also several attacks on the city in February, including an ISIS attack on the Supreme Court that left 20 dead, according to CNN.

Kabul, the fifth-fastest growing city in the world, has seen a number of attacks from the Taliban and ISIS in recent months, starting with a July 2016 suicide bombing by ISIS that killed at least 80.

Officials told The New York Times they worry about the kind of pressure that places on Afghanistan’s security forces. The attack marks the first time ISIS has directly attacked security forces in the capital, BBC reported.

There’s also concern over the effect this most recent attack will have on the military — whose members often felt safe in hospitals like Sardar Daud Khan — and medical workers. In 2015 and 2016, more than 240 attacks were launched against medical facilities and health care organizations in Afghanistan, according to a report from the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks during a speech honoring International Women’s Day, saying the attack “”trampled all human values,” BBC reported.

In a series of tweets last month, Ghani said the fight against terrorism goes beyond just Afghanistan.

“Our problem is at the regional level. We’re [i]n a part of the world where there'[s] no rules of the game defining interaction among states,” he tweeted.

“Recent attacks in AFG and Pakistan shows that there’re no good & bad terrorists. As long as that distinction remains, we’re all losers,” he continued. “When you have 20 terrorist groups still threatening our peace, the region and the world in 2017 — it shows that the task is not done.”

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