January 20, 2019

Afghanistan: Horror at Kabul’s military hospital

CaptureIn the Afghan capital, Kabul, there’s still widespread shock and anger at the brutal militant attack last week on the city’s main military hospital.

The authorities have acted swiftly, sacking the deputy interior minister and arresting 24 hospital and military officials, including an army general.

But for many Kabul residents it feels too little, too late.

A local man interviewed on the street this week by state TV spoke for many.

“If this government can’t fulfil its responsibilities, someone else needs to take over,” he said.

“People have had enough of this situation.”The 400-bed Sardar Daud Khan hospital is set in extensive grounds in Kabul’s diplomatic district, not far from the US embassy, Nato headquarters and the Afghan state television building.
People are demanding to know how such a supposedly secure defence ministry facility could be so vulnerable to attack.
The issue has been furiously debated in parliament and continues to be a key subject of conversation on social media.At a hastily arranged press conference this week, defence ministry officials presented their initial findings.
But their version appeared to contradict the accounts of some eyewitnesses and Afghan politicians, and many key questions remain unanswered.
One of the biggest is how the attackers were able to get into what was supposed to be a heavily-guarded compound.
A medical technician who has worked at the hospital for almost a decade told the BBC that security was always very tight.
“Everyone entering the building, including staff, is frisked and their bags are checked,” she said.
So did the attackers have help from inside?

The defence ministry says five people were involved and that they entered the compound in a car with fake number plates.

One blew himself up at the hospital gates and the others ran inside.

But eyewitnesses, including one who spoke to the BBC, reported hearing gunfire in the hospital corridors at exactly the same time as the blast at the entrance – suggesting at least some of the group could have already been inside.

Disguised as doctors

One eyewitness who spent three hours hiding inside the cardiology department told the BBC that a colleague had seen men in white coats opening fire on people in the corridor.

Ahmad Nesar Hares, a member of the Afghan Senate Committee investigating the attack, told a heated Senate debate this week that according to his information as many as 17 militants were involved and that they had been let in by “an enemy who worked in the hospital for three months”.

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