KABUL -- Gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in Kabul Tuesday (May 12), killing at least 14 people -- including newborns, mothers and nurses -- while a suicide blast at a funeral in Nangarhar Province killed two dozen mourners.
Three gunmen held the Barchi National Hospital in Kabul for hours after the early-morning attack before security forces killed them in a clearance operation, the Interior Ministry said.
Heavily armed security personnel were seen carrying infants away from the scene -- at least one wrapped in a blood-soaked blanket.
"The fatalities also include mothers and nurses," said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.
Fifteen people were wounded and more than 100, including three foreign nationals, were rescued, he said.
The hospital is supported by the humanitarian organisation Doctors without Borders (MSF), and a number of foreigners were working there.
The hospital is situated in the west of the city, home to the capital's minority Shia Hazara community -- a frequent target of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
A paediatrician who fled the hospital told AFP he heard a loud explosion at the entrance of the building.
"The hospital was full of patients and doctors, there was total panic inside," he said, asking not to be named.
Tuesday's attack was the latest to hit the country's already stretched health sector, with facilities and medical personnel frequently targets of the militant groups' violence.
"We call on all sides to stop attacking hospitals and health workers," said Dr. Waheed Majroh, deputy minister at the Afghan Public Health Ministry.
Around an hour after the Kabul assault, a suicide bomber killed at least 24 people at the funeral of a local police commander in Nangarhar Province, according to provincial spokesman Ataullah Khogyani.
The attacker detonated explosives in the middle of the ceremony.
Thousands of mourners had gathered for the funeral, said Amir Mohammad, a wounded survivor of the explosion.
The Taliban denied involvement in both attacks.
No mercy for innocent civilians
The violence comes just a day after four roadside bombs detonated in less than 90 minutes in Kabul, wounding four civilians including a child, police said.
The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) took responsibility for all those bombings.
They took place in the capital's 17th District, an area where Afghanistan's intelligence agency on May 5 busted a joint ISIS-Haqqani Network cell accused of carrying out several recent terrorist acts.
The cell was responsible for an attack on March 25 on a Sikh temple in Kabul that killed at least 25 worshippers as well as another on an outdoor ceremony in Kabul to mark the 25th anniversary of the Taliban murder of Shia leader Abdul Ali Mazari on March 6.
That massacre killed at least 27 people, including women and children, and wounded another 29, according to the Interior Ministry.
The ISIS-Haqqani cell was also behind a rocket attack that targeted the swearing-in ceremony of President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace on March 9, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said.
ISIS has suffered mounting setbacks after being hunted by US and Afghan forces.
Afghan forces recently arrested three senior ISIS leaders in Kabul, the Interior Ministry and the NDS said a joint statement on Monday (May 11).
NDS forces in co-operation with Police Special Forces Unit 222 captured Zia-ul-Haq (also known as Abu Omar al-Khorasani), the leader of ISIS for South and East Asia, along with Saheeb, director of public relations, and Abu Ali, the head of the group's intelligence branch, the statement said.
The operation took place after four arrested ISIS members provided information to the NDS, it added.