Gunmen have stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, setting off a gun battle with government forces, officials said.
Al Jazeera’s Massoud Shams, quoting local Tolo news, said at least five people had been killed, including three women and a child.
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Shams, reporting from Kabul, said security forces have cordoned the area off and blasts and gunfire could be heard.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said more than 80 women and babies had been evacuated by Afghan security forces from the government-run hospital, where medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres – MSF) runs a maternity clinic.
An Afghan woman brought to Emergency hospital after she was injured during the attack at the MSF clinic [Jawad Jalali/EPA]
“The forces are trying to eliminate the terrorists and bring the situation under control,” said Arian. He later added that at least one of the attackers had been shot dead.
Black smoke continued to rise into the sky over the hospital located in the Dashti Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul, a mostly Shia neighbourhood that has seen past attacks by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.
A paediatrician who fled the hospital told AFP he heard a loud explosion at the entrance of the building.
“The hospital was full of patients and doctors; there was total panic inside,” he told AFP, asking not to be named.
The 100-bed government-run facility is supported by MSF, said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
A series of deadly attacks
There have been a number of deadly attacks in the capital in recent months, claimed by the ISIL group.
On Monday, security forces said they had arrested three senior ISIL members including a regional leader.
Last week, security forces killed and arrested several members of an ISIL cell that authorities said was responsible for several high-profile attacks in Kabul including one on a Sikh temple in March.
Roadside blasts in the capital on Monday, which wounded four civilians, were claimed by the group.
Afghanistan is also dealing with violence by the Taliban around the country even as the United States tries to usher in peace talks after signing a troop withdrawal agreement in February with the armed group.
Smokes rises from the hospital stormed by gunmen in the Afghan capital, Kabul [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]