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AFP
May 27, 2020

Sorrow for new Afghan parents after hospital attack

World

AFP
May 27, 2020

KABUL: Zia Gul gave birth to her daughter just an hour after escaping from gunmen who rampaged through a Kabul maternity ward, and now struggles to reconcile motherhood with the trauma of the attack.

As she deals with the first days with her new daughter Roya, the sleepless nights familiar to any new parent are haunted by the gruesome May 12 attack that killed at least 24 people. "I have nightmares every night," the 28-year-old said, sitting on a carpet in her Kabul home and cradling her sleeping daughter in her lap.

Newborns, mothers and nurses, were killed when gunmen posing as members of the security forces rampaged through the facility run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in an attack that shocked a country long accustomed to brutality after decades of war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later pinned the blame on the Taliban, who denied any involvement, while the United States accused the Islamic State. No group has claimed responsibility for the massacre.

"Whenever I hear a loud sound or firecrackers, I think the attackers have come to kill me," said Zia Gul from her home in an impoverished Kabul neighbourhood.

"The attack came suddenly, the attackers started shooting the babies and women giving birth." As the militants went on their killing spree -- described by MSF as "a systematic shooting" -- doctors at the hospital helped Zia Gul and others hide.

She later managed to escape and was evacuated by security services to another facility. An hour later, her daughter Roya was born, a blessing after suffering an earlier miscarriage. But the joy was dulled -- her mother-in-law, who had come with her to the hospital, was killed in the attack. Akram, 40, who only gave his first name, vividly recalls the aftermath of the horrific attack that killed his wife shortly after she had given birth to their daughter, Maryam.