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Afghan maternity ward attackers ‘came to kill the mothers’

rescued mother and her newborn baby receive medical care in a hospital a day after the complex attack at MSF (Doctors without Borders) hospital, in Kabul, Afghanistan,Image copyright

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Gunmen killed 24 people in the attack, including at least 11 mothers

The cold-blooded murders of 24 women, children and babies at a hospital in the Afghan capital was horrific enough.

But as Frederic Bonnot made his way through the bullet-riddled maternity unit, he realised something more.

Warning: Readers may find details in this story upsetting

The attackers had walked straight past a number of other wards, all closer to the entrance of Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi hospital, and made straight for the maternity unit.

To him, it meant one thing: this was no mistake.

“What I saw in the maternity demonstrates it was a systematic shooting of the mothers,” Bonnot, Medicin Sans Frontiere’s (MSF) Head of Programmes in Afghanistan, said. “They went through the rooms in the maternity, shooting women in their beds. It was methodical.

“They came to kill the mothers.”

‘Beyond words’

Amina was just two hours old when the attack started.

The little girl was the third child for Bibi Nazia and her husband, Rafiullah. Back at home, they already had a girl and a boy.

Nazia had gone to the hospital with her mother, and Amina was born at 08: 00.

It should have been a day of celebration for Rafiullah. But at 10: 00, the attack began. Explosions were heard by people outside the hospital complex. Those with family and friends inside rushed to the scene – including Rafiullah.

“He ran from side to side. But he couldn’t do anything, no one allowed him to go inside,” his cousin Hamidullah Hamidi told BBC Pashto.

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Media captionNineteen babies are being cared for at the Ataturk Children’s Hospital

Inside the walls of the hospital, three gunmen were moving through the 55-bed maternity unit, which has been run by MSF since 2014.

A total of 26 mothers and mothers-to-be were inside at the time. Ten managed to flee to safe rooms; the other 16 – including Bibi Nazia and Amina – were not so lucky.

Three of the 16 mothers were shot and killed in the delivery room, along with their unborn babies.

Bibi Nazia was among the other eight mothers killed; little Amina was shot in the legs. Five more were wounded. Two young boys were also killed in the carnage, along with a midwife.

One woman, named only as Khadija, told Reuters news agency how one of the gunmen had pointed his weapon at her, before turning it on two other people.

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The gunman went straight for the maternity unit

The gun battle between the militants and Afghan security forces went on for four hours as many of the maternity unit’s patients and staff took cover. The gunmen were all killed.

One baby born was at the hospital during those hours. A midwife, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed to the AFP news agency how the woman sheltering with her in the safe room gave birth while trying not to make a sound.

“We helped her with our bare hands, we had nothing else in the room except some toilet paper and our scarves,” the midwife said.

“When the baby was born, we cut the umbilical cord using our hands. We used our headscarves to wrap the baby and the mother.”

Frederic Bonnot described how those inside the safe rooms could only listen as explosions and gunfire ricocheted around the building.

By the time they were finished, he said, they found “walls sprayed with bullets, blood on the floors in the rooms, vehicles burnt out and wind

 » Continua a leggere su BBC World News…