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Kabul Hospital Attack Death Toll Rises to 49 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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More than 40 people were killed and around 60 wounded in an insurgent attack on Afghanistan’s largest military hospital in Kabul. (AFP)

Kabul – The death toll from Wednesday’s attack against a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul has risen to 49, said a senior health official on Thursday.

Gunmen dressed as medics attacked the military hospital in Kabul, shooting doctors, patients and visitors.

Salim Rassouli, director of Kabul hospitals, said 49 people had been killed in the attack on the Sardar Mohammad Khan military hospital on Wednesday, with at least 63 wounded.

Gunmen went through the 400-bed hospital, shooting doctors, patients and visitors and battling security forces for several hours in a sophisticated operation claimed by ISIS.

The attack on Afghanistan’s largest military hospital, close to the heavily fortified US embassy, underlined warnings from security officials of an increase in high profile attacks in Kabul this year.

Egypt on Thursday condemned the ISIS attack, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abou Zeid offering condolences to the families of the victims.

The Ministry statement stressed that Egypt’s government and people stand by Afghanistan in confronting terrorism, demanding that international efforts be exerted to combat it.

The UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the hospital attack and urging all states to cooperate with the Afghan government to bring those responsible to justice and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism.

Pakistan on Thursday shut its porous border with landlocked Afghanistan after opening it for two days, saying the measure was necessary to save Pakistanis from attacks from militants operating inside Afghanistan.

But Pakistan temporarily reopened the crossings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to allow the return home of stranded citizens of both countries holding valid travel documents.

Two men, a woman and a child were trampled to death in the resulting surge of more than 20,000 Afghans passing through the crossings, said Attahullah Khogyani, the government spokesman for Afghanistan’s border province of Nangarhar.

Pakistani official Niaz Mohammad, based in the border town of Torkham, said 24,000 Afghans had returned to Afghanistan on foot, while 700 Pakistanis returned home, before the border was closed again at 9.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“There is no clarity on when the border will be reopened,” Mohammad said.

The closure chokes off a key trading route for landlocked Afghanistan, although it has been working to build trade ties with other neighbors, such as Iran. It also cuts off Pakistani traders from a steady market.

On Thursday, about 200 traders and transporters held a protest at Torkham, complaining that cargo on 800 stranded trucks was rotting, particularly meat and fruit.

“People have suffered billions of rupees of losses in the past three or four weeks,” said one protester, Ali Jan, a transporter.

A Pakistani government official, who asked not to be named, said the border would stay closed until Afghanistan took action against a list of 76 “most-wanted terrorists” whose capture and handover by Kabul the Pakistani military demanded last month.

Relations between the two countries are tense, with each routinely accusing the other of doing too little to stop Taliban fighters and other militants from operating in its territory.

Pakistan has blamed several attacks last month, in which more than 130 people were killed, on Pakistani militants taking shelter in Afghanistan. Afghanistan denies the charges.

Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at Torkham, angering Afghanistan, which rejects a colonial-era boundary line dating from 1893.