A probe by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) shows that “15 mothers were killed” in the attack by gunmen on a maternity wing at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul last month.
Five of these women were in labor and were minutes, or at most hours, from giving birth to their babies. An MSF midwife, Maryam Noorzad, was also killed in the attack on May 12, as well as two children aged 7 and 8. "We are devastated by this act of horrific violence," says the MSF in a statement.
MSF calls for an Afghan government probe to provide answers to the organization's questions regarding the incident; otherwise, it says “without answers to any of these questions, it would be difficult for MSF to think about restarting our activities in Darst-e-Barchi.”
"We need to know who killed our patients and midwife, and why the maternity wing was targeted. For that reason, we ask the relevant authorities to conduct an inquiry into this brutal attack,” the organization says.
All indications are that the attack targeted the maternity wing itself, and in particular mothers, in the hospital, the MSF says in its probe.
There were 28 mothers in the maternity wing at the time: we can confirm that 15 of them were killed, the MSF says.
In total, according to the official toll released by Afghan authorities, 24 people were killed and more than 20 were injured.
The victims included an MSF Afghan midwife, five babies just hours before being born, and two boys aged less than 10 who were at the hospital for routine vaccination.
The MSF says the hospital had 55 beds, including 30 beds for mothers and 25 beds for the new-born unit.
In Afghanistan each year, 638 mothers die per 100,000 live births, according to MSF. In comparison, the ratio in France is 8, in Belgium 5 and in Spain 4 per 100,000 live births per year.