By Emal Haidary, AFP
KABUL — Explosions and gunfire rattled Kabul’s diplomatic district Wednesday when insurgents dressed as doctors stormed Afghanistan’s largest military hospital, officials said, as growing insecurity besets the war-battered country. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the ongoing assault on the Sardar Daud Khan hospital, but it comes as the Taliban ramp up attacks even before the official start of their annual spring offensive. At least two people were so far reported killed and 12 others wounded, the health ministry said around two hours after the raid began, with medical staff trapped in the facility posting desperate messages for help on social media. “Attackers are inside the hospital. Pray for us,” a hospital staff member wrote on Facebook. Hospital administrators told AFP three gunmen wearing white laboratory coats were on the loose after a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at the backdoor entrance, sparking chaos inside the 400-bed facility. “I saw one of the attackers, armed with an AK-47 and dressed as doctor, shooting at patients and guards on the third floor,” hospital nurse Abdul Qadeer told AFP.
“They shot my friend but I managed to flee … I had to jump over the barbed wire to escape.” At least two other loud explosions — including what the defense ministry called a car bomb in the hospital’s parking lot — were heard as Afghan special forces launched a clearance operation to rein in the attackers. “Three attackers armed with AK-47s and grenades entered the building. Our commandos are chasing them,” ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP around four hours after the first explosion. “One of them has been killed, but two others are still resisting on the sixth and seventh floors of the building. We have evacuated all the patients.”