Military hospital under attack in Afghanistan's capital

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at the site of a blast in Kabul Afghanistan

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at the site of a blast in Kabul Afghanistan

An attack on a military hospital in Afghanistan has killed more than 30 people, the country's Defence Ministry has said.

"This egregious and morally reprehensible attack targeted people at their most vulnerable, while they were receiving treatment in the hospital, and also targeted the medical staff caring for them", said the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Nabi, a doctor at the hospital who escaped with a broken leg, said it had been hard to comprehend what was going on initially as the gunmen in doctors' white coats took out concealed weapons and began shooting.

First a suicide bomber blew himself up at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman.

Special security forces launched a clearance operation that ended after a lengthy gun battle with the militants who had taken up positions on the upper floors of the hospital.

The Afghan public health ministry also confirmed that two civilians had died and up to 12 more were injured before being transported to other hospitals.

As soldiers cleared the building, they discovered bodies and the number of casualties quickly grew.

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Afghan helicopters circled over the area, which was surrounded by Afghan security forces.

Earlier, the Afghanistan Taliban distanced itself from the attack and a spokesperson said the group had "no connection" to the assault.

Sixteen people were killed in dual Taliban suicide attacks on Kabul a week ago.

Islamic State claimed the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

The attack on Sardar Mohammad Daud Hospital in Kabul was widely condemned by national and worldwide organizations as well as Afghan leaders.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack during an address in honour of International Women's Day, calling it "an attack on all Afghan people and all Afghan women".

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