Unparalleled Violence In Afghanistan Claims Lives of Newborns and Mothers

Shia Rights Watch expresses its condolences for the lives lost in the maternity ward attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The attack on Tuesday was unparalleled and demanded actions reciprocal in strength. 

On May 12th, a militant attack on the Dashte-Barchi hospital in Kabul left 40 deceased and at least 16 others injured; 140 people are said to have been in the hospital at the time of the attack. Dashte-Barchi is located in a quarter of Kabul dense in Shia Muslims. Locals report consecutive blasts then gunfire beginning at 10 am. Panic ensued right after. Survivors say that attackers, dressed as police officers, shot at everyone. 

One woman gave birth amidst the commotion. 

Among those killed were newborn children, many of which were conceived after years of medical infertility treatment. 

One prevailing story has been that of Zahra Muhammadi and her daughter-in-law, Zainab, who had traveled from Bamiyan to Dashte Barchi in hopes of finding reliable medical attention. Zainab’s son, Omid, was shot within hours of his birth.

“Today we’ll take [Omids] dead body to Bamiyan,” stated Zahra Muhammadi. 

The hospital attack was one of two attacks on Tuesday. In Nangarhar, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that led to the death of more than 32. The New York Times approximates 100 people killed as a result of the two attacks. 

Following the attack, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated, “In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I’m ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defense mode to an offensive one and to resume their operations against the enemies.”

Attacks in the Shia sectors of Kabul are not new. Shia Muslims in Kabul live in constant fear of being targeted by radical extremism. In 2019, a significant percentage of those killed in terror attacks were Shia Muslims, deliberately targeted for their faith. 

The attack on Dashte-Barchi was unprecedented in violence. The attack was a clear display of the extent of violence extremists in Afghanistan are willing to use to threaten the Shia existence in Kabul. 

Shia Rights Watch notes that any action taken must recognize sentiments of anti-Shiism that fuel extremist activities across Afghanistan. Measures signed into effect must discretely include protection for Shia Muslims and call for national efforts to reduce anti-Shiism in the country.

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