Gunmen wearing white lab coats stormed a military hospital in Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people and wounding dozens in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
The attack on the 400-bed military facility, located near two civilian hospitals in Kabul's heavily-guarded diplomatic quarter, set off clashes with security forces that lasted several hours.
The brazen assault reflected the capability of militant groups in Afghanistan to stage large-scale and complex attacks in the heart of Kabul, underscoring the challenges the government continues to face to improve security for ordinary Afghans.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a Defence Ministry spokesman, said there were "more than 30 killed and more than 50 wounded" in the attack. Afghan forces battled the attackers floor by floor, he added. The ministry said the attackers were dressed like health workers.
According to Waziri, four gunmen were involved, including two suicide bombers who detonated their explosives vests once the group was inside the hospital.
The two other attackers were shot dead by security forces, the spokesman said. A member of the security forces was killed in the shootout and three other security officers were wounded. Along with the suicide vests, the attackers also had AK-47 rifles and hand grenades, Waziri said.
The assault lasted for several hours, with Afghan helicopters circling over the hospital building, troops rappelling onto rooftops and security forces going floor-by-floor in a gunbattle with the attackers. By mid-afternoon, the attack was over and a clean-up operation was underway.
IS claimed the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.