Along with the 38 dead, more than 70 people were wounded as gunmen dressed in lab coats barged inside the hospital. The attack was claimed by ISIL.
The deadly series of events began with a suicide bomb at the front gate of the Sardar Daud Khan hospital at 9:00 am, as reported by Al Jazeera.
These attacks additionally support the movement of attacks against civilian and military targets in Afghanistan, capitalizing the growing threat posed by fighters pledging loyalty to ISIL.
Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the defense ministry, told Al Jazeera three attackers with automatic weapons and hand grenades entered the complex, the largest of its kind in the Afghan capital.
“Our security forces engaged but they were also careful to not cause any casualties. It was a difficult situation,” Waziri said.
The area surrounding the hospital was blocked by security forces, that of which the attackers fought with for several hours. As the fighting went on, a second explosion ignited inside the hospital.
Some of the patients residing in the hospital had climbed out of the building and could be seen sheltered on window ledges seen from outside the hospital, which treats military casualties from across Afghanistan, or jumping.
Startled by the deafening sound of gunfire, Qadeer, an operating room nurse, was fleeing for his life when he saw one of the AK47-toting attackers, spraying bullets at screaming patients and guards on the third floor.
“My friend was shot in front of me,” Qadeer told AFP. “I was stuck for a while, but then I had to jump in order to escape.”
Majid Mojib, in charge of the hospital’s intensive care unit, broke a leg as he plunged from a third-floor window.
“I saw in horror that doctors, patients, everybody was screaming as they were chased by gunmen spraying bullets indiscriminately,” Mojib told AFP news agency while receiving treatment in another city hospital.
“Many did not survive. It was a massacre.”
Relatives of the victims stood outside of the hospital as the 6 hour fight dragged on.
“Everyone has the right to be treated safely, whether they are women, men, children or wounded combatants.”
Afghanistan is currently preparing for a fighting season as attempts to enforce peace negotiations with the Taliban have failed.
As stated by Al Jazeera News, Kabul last month endorsed US general John Nicholson’s call for thousands of additional coalition troops in Afghanistan to fend off the group before the spring offensive.
Extra troops were needed to end the stalemate in the war, Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told the US Congress in what could be President Donald Trump’s first major test of military strategy.
On the other hand, the Pentagon this year said it would deploy around 300 US Marines this spring to Helmand province alone.
The Marines will assist a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, in the latest sign that foreign forces are increasingly being drawn back into the deteriorating conflict.