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Iran Press TV

WHO 'appalled' by attack on maternity hospital in Kabul

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 6:21 PM

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) says he was "shocked and appalled" by the fatal attack on a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, calling for a global ceasefire amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Three gunmen attacked a maternity hospital that houses a unit run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Tuesday, setting off an hours-long shootout with police. Afghanistan's Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh said on Wednesday that the attack left at least 24 people killed and 16 others wounded.

During an online news conference in Geneva on Wednesday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus held a minute of silence, in memory of the victims of the attack.

"I was shocked and appalled to hear of the attack on an MSF hospital in Afghanistan, which led to the deaths of nurses, mothers and babies," Tedros said, adding, "Civilians and health workers should never be a target."

He also called for a "global ceasefire" given the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need peace for health and health for peace. And we need it now. In the time of a global pandemic, I urge all stakeholders to put aside politics and prioritize peace, a global ceasefire and ending this pandemic together."

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on the hospital, which lies in the neighborhood of Dashti Barchi, home to Shia Hazara community.

The Taliban insisted they were not involved.

In a separate attack on the same day claimed by an offshoot of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, a terrorist detonated an explosive vest at a funeral ceremony in the eastern Nangarhar Province, killing 32 mourners.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed both the Taliban and Daesh for the attacks, ordering the country's security forces to "start their operations against the enemies".

Daesh has been securing a foothold in Afghanistan ever since it was flushed out of its former Middle East bastions. The US has been largely blamed for relocating remnants of the terrorist group to the South Asian country following their defeat in Iraq and Syria.

The presidential order to the Afghan military to switch to offensive mode from a defensive one came months after the Afghan government adopted a defensive stance as part of efforts to save a so-called peace deal between the Taliban and the United States.

The move was meant to show good faith ahead of intra-Afghan peace talks, which to this day have not begun. The Taliban militant group, while involved in a piecemeal prisoner exchange with the Afghan government, has rejected an offer of truce for the Islamic month of Ramadan and has continued attacking government forces.

The US signed the deal with the Taliban on February 29. Under the agreement, the militant group agreed to halt attacks on foreign forces in return for the US' phased withdrawal from Afghanistan. The militants made no pledge to refrain from attacking Afghan forces.

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