“Today’s attacks in Afghanistan-given their location and targeting-have all the hallmarks of ISIS-K”
Gunmen attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday where the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic, killing 13 people, including two newborn babies, officials said.
In a separate attack the same day, a suicide bomber struck the funeral of a police commander, attended by government officials and a member of parliament, in the eastern province of Nangahar, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s main Islamist insurgency group which says it has halted attacks on cities under a US troop withdrawal deal, denied involvement in both.
The Islamic State militant group operates in Nangahar and has carried out a number of high-profile attacks in Kabul in recent months. On Monday security forces arrested its regional leader in the capital.
Michael Kugelman, a South Asia analyst associated with Washington-based The Wilson Center, tweeted in his personal capacity that, “Today’s attacks in Afghanistan-given their location and targeting-have all the hallmarks of ISIS-K”.
A spokesman for the Nangahar provincial government said the casualty toll could rise in the attack on the funeral.
Pakistan, in a statement through the Foreign Office, strongly condemned the “inhuman and cowardly terrorist attack on a medical facility in Kabul and suicide attack on a funeral in Nangarhar”.
“These terrorist acts are particularly despicable as they take place in the holy month of Ramadan and at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement said.
“We extend heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families of victims and prayers for early recovery for those injured. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the Afghan people in this hour of grief.
“Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and will continue to support a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”
ALSO READ: US Seeks Pakistan Help For Intra-Afghan Dialogue
The US has asked Pakistan to use its influence to press the Taliban for the “immediate” start of intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending Washington’s 19-year (longest) war in neighboring Afghanistan.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, visited the region this week to meet Taliban negotiators, and officials in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India to seek their support for speeding up the intra-Afghan negotiations.
Speaking with DesPardes, the head of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) said, “Pakistan has been actively supportive of the US-Taliban talks that led to the historic agreement in February”.
“Pakistan should remain neutral and not take sides”.
“The more broad-based agreement intra-Afghanistan dialogue, the better it is”, Khan Hasham Bin Saddiq, the President of IPRI told DesPardes. “We should facilitate peace in Afghanistan”.