MSF urges probe into gruesome Afghan hospital attack


Kabul (AFP)

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Wednesday called for an inquiry into last month's horrifying attack on an Afghan hospital, which the international charity said killed 18, including some women who were about to give birth.

Mothers, newborns and nurses were shot dead by gunmen who stormed the MSF run maternity facility in Kabul on May 12, in a brazen daylight attack that triggered international outrage.

"We still don't know who attacked us or why," MSF said in a statement on Wednesday.

"For that reason, we ask the relevant authorities to conduct an inquiry into this brutal attack."

Officials said 24 people were killed in the attack on Darst e-Bachi hospital in west Kabul, which the United States blamed on the Islamic State group.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which President Ashraf Ghani has blamed on the Taliban and IS.

MSF said its own assessment reveals that 15 mothers were killed in the attack, including five who were "minutes or at most hours" from giving birth.

It said an MSF midwife too was killed along with two children aged seven and eight.

The target of the attack was the maternity ward itself, the charity group said, and in particular mothers who were there at that time.

"The assailants systematically moved from one room to another, killing mothers in their beds," MSF said.

"This was a terror attack, aimed to terrorise a vulnerable community by targeting the maternity wing and systematically shooting pregnant women and babies."

It said the death toll could have been much higher if more than 100 people had not taken refuge in safe rooms, designed to protect the occupants from gunfire or rockets.

MSF said it was still unclear whether the group itself was the target of the attack, making it difficult to reopen the facility.

"The consequences of this attack has been to deprive women and babies of lifesaving medical care" in an impoverished district of the capital, MSF said.