Hamdullah Mokhlis, a senior Taliban leader, was among the 19 dead in an attack that took place in a military hospital in Kabul on Tuesday. Mokhlis died when his men responded to the attack carried out by the Islamic State, which later took the responsibility of the deaths, according to officials.
Mokhlis was a member of the hardline Haqqani network and an officer in the Badri Corps special forces. So far, he is the most senior figure to have been killed since the Taliban seized the capital in early August. The exact time of the attack isn't yet known.
Fighting for Power
The attack took place at the center of the city of Kabul. Two back-to-back explosions rocked the entrance of the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan military hospital on Tuesday. There were reportedly several people at the hospital at that time.
The explosions were followed by heavy gunfire. The Taliban's rivals, the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for the gun and bomb assault in the centre of the capital. Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) later released a statement on its Telegram channels claiming that "five Islamic State group fighters carried out simultaneous coordinated attacks" on the hospital site.
"The IS insurgents wanted to target civilians, doctors and patients in the hospital," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said. Mokhlis and his men, who were at that time present at the hospital, responded but he was finally killed.
Mujahid also claimed that that Taliban forces had repulsed the attack within 15 minutes. "The IS insurgents wanted to target civilians, doctors and patients in the hospital," he added.
This is also one of the first few attacks to have taken place following the exit of US troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban spokesperson said that both the explosions took place after two suicide bombers detonated their explosives.
A health worker at the hospital, who managed to escape the site, said he heard a large explosion followed by a couple of minutes of gunfire. About 10 minutes later, there was a second, larger explosion, he told Reuters.
Gunmen then broke into the hospital firing at civilian patients, doctors and medical staff. As part of the response, he said, Taliban "special forces" were dropped onto the roof of the hospital from one of the helicopters that the group seized from Afghanistan's former US-backed government.
Besides the 19 dead, over 50 people were wounded in the attack. They were taken to hospitals in Kabul. Some have been discharged after first air, which a few are still admitted for their wounds.