Kabul, March 8 : A fresh blow of Islamic State terrorist attack has befallen Afghanistan, with gunmen disguised as doctors entered a military hospital in the capital city and battled security forces inside the building for several hours.
The attack began when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the rear of the Charsad Bester Military hospital and three attackers with automatic weapons and hand grenades entered the complex, security officials said.
The gunmen, dressed as medical personnel, had taken position on upper floors of the hospital and engaged special forces sent to the scene. Security forces blocked off the area around the hospital, near a busy traffic intersection and special forces soldiers descended on to the roof of the main building from helicopters. As fighting went on, a second explosion was heard from inside.
A spokesman for the public health ministry said at least three dead and more than 60 wounded had been taken to other hospitals.
"Our forces are there and there is heavy fighting," said Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri. He said one attacker had been killed and another two were holding out, while one soldier had been killed and three wounded.
A statement from Islamic State said that its fighters had attacked the hospital. The group has mounted several high-profile attacks on civilian targets in Kabul over the past year, including several on prominent Shi'ite targets.
The raid on the hospital across the road from the heavily fortified U.S. embassy underlines warnings by government officials that high-profile attacks in Kabul are likely to escalate this year.
President Ashraf Ghani said that the attack trampled on all human values. "In all religions, a hospital is regarded as an immune site and attacking it is attacking the whole of Afghanistan," he said during a speech for International Women's Day in Kabul.
The NATO-led Resolute Support mentioned in its tweet that it is ready to assist Afghan security services in this hour of their need.