India on Tuesday strongly condemned separate terror attacks targeting a maternity hospital, a funeral and a military check post in Afghanistan, calling them "barbaric" acts against innocent people including women and children.
Gunmen disguised as police attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, killing 16 people including two newborn babies from a maternity clinic run by the international humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders.
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. Authorities said that toll could rise.
Statement by MEA
"India strongly condemns the barbaric terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, including women and children, at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, funeral in Nangarhar province and the Army check post in Laghman province," the MEA said.
In a statement, it said the "reprehensible" attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity.
In a statement, it said the "reprehensible" attacks, including on mothers, newly born children, nurses and mourning families are appalling and constitute crimes against humanity. "We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the deceased and wish speedy recovery to those injured," the MEA said.
It said there can be no justification for such continued acts of terrorism, asserting that the perpetrators of such heinous acts and their sponsors should be held accountable and brought to justice.
"They should be forced to eradicate safe havens and sanctuaries that have abetted terrorism in the region for decades and caused immense miseries to untold number of people in the region," the MEA said.
It said India stands in solidarity with the people, government and security forces of Afghanistan in their efforts to bring peace and stability to the nation. "The holy month of Ramazan should be a period of fasting, prayer and reflection," the MEA said.
"We call for an immediate cessation of terrorist violence and cooperation to deal with the humanitarian situation arising from the spread of coronavirus in Afghanistan," it added.
President Ashraf Ghani asks the military to switch to offensive mode
President Ashraf Ghani in a televised address condemned the attacks and said he had ordered the military to switch to 'offensive' mode rather than the defensive stance it had adopted as the United States withdraws troops and tries to broker the talks.
"In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I am ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to start their operations against the enemies," he said.
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said on Twitter: "there seems little point in continuing to engage Taliban in peace talks".
Mothers, children, nurses
The Kabul attack began in the morning when at least three gunmen wearing police uniforms entered the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital, throwing grenades and shooting, government officials said. Security forces had killed the attackers by the afternoon.
"The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason. It's a government hospital, and a lot of people bring in their women and children for treatment," said Ramazan Ali, a nearby vendor who saw the start of the attack.
The 100-bed government-run hospital hosted a maternity clinic run by Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Countries condemn the attack
Countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey and Pakistan released statements condemning the violence.
Last week, security forces killed and arrested several members of an Islamic State cell that authorities said was responsible for several attacks in Kabul including one on a Sikh temple in March. A roadside blast in the capital on Monday, which wounded four civilians, was claimed by the group.
Afghanistan is also facing violence around the country from the Taliban, even as the United States tries to usher in peace talks after signing a troop withdrawal agreement in February with the militants. The Taliban say they are holding back from attacking urban centres and their operations are aimed at government security forces.