Afghan president orders army to resume operations against the Taliban and IS group

Dozens of people, including newborns, were killed in two separate attacks on Tuesday

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the country's security forces on Tuesday to resume offensive operations against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, following two separate attacks that killed dozens of people, news wires reported. No group has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks on a maternity hospital in the capital Kabul and a funeral in the eastern province of Nangarhar, but Ghani, in a TV address, blamed the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

Earlier on Tuesday, gunmen stormed a maternity hospital in the Afghan capital, killing at least 14 people, including mothers, newborns and nurses, as a suicide blast at a funeral in the country’s restive east left two dozen mourners dead.

Three gunmen held siege to 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.

The 100-bed government-run facility is supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The hospital is located in the west of the city, home to the capital's minority Shiite Hazara community – a frequent target of hardline Sunni militants from the Islamic State group.

Around an hour after the Kabul assault, a suicide bomber killed at least 24 people at the funeral of a local police commander in eastern Nangarhar province. The attacker detonated explosives in the middle of the ceremony.The Taliban denied involvement in either attack.

The violence comes just a day after four roadside bombs exploded in a northern district of Kabul, wounding four civilians including a child. Those bombings were later claimed by the Islamic State group. In March at least 25 people were killed by a gunman at a Sikh temple in Kabul in an attack later claimed by the group. The IS group was also responsible for an infamous attack in March 2017 on one of the country's largest hospitals, when gunmen disguised as doctors stormed the Kabul building and killed dozens.

The jihadist group has recently suffered mounting setbacks after being hunted by US and Afghan forces as well as in Taliban offensives targeting their fighters, but it still retains the ability to launch major assaults on urban centres.

The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since February, when they signed a landmark withdrawal deal with the US meant to pave the way for peace talks with the Kabul government. Under the agreement, the Taliban promised not to target forces from the US-led coalition, but made no such pledge toward Afghan troops and have stepped up attacks in the provinces. The deal will see all US and foreign forces leave Afghanistan over the next year. Thousands of US troops have already gone, with a drawdown to 8,600 expected within months.

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