The attackers, whose overall number is as yet unknown, stormed the hospital through the main gate just after 10:00 in the morning. There were other buildings and wards closer to the entrance, but according to MSF staff present at the moment of the attack, the assailants moved straight to the maternity ward supported by MSF. What ensued was four hours of hell—that is how long the attack lasted, while patients and staff alike searched desperately for shelter.
“During the attack, from the safe room we heard shooting everywhere and explosions too,” said Bonnot. “It’s shocking. We know this area has suffered attacks in the past, but no one could believe they would attack a maternity. They came to kill the mothers.”
The maternity ward was staffed by 102 Afghan MSF colleagues working alongside a handful of international staff. In the chaos of the attack, accounting for patients and the staff in the hospital became extremely difficult, as people were running for their safety and many others were hastily referred to other hospitals.
“This country is sadly used to seeing horrific events,” said Bonnot. “But what happened Tuesday is beyond words.”
MSF first worked in Afghanistan in 1980 but suspended operations between 2004 and 2009 after the killing of five staff in Badghis province. In 2019, MSF had seven projects in six of the country's provinces and provided more than 100,000 outpatient consultations, assisted more than 60,000 deliveries, and performed almost 10,000 surgeries. MSF does not accept funding from any government for our work in Afghanistan, instead relying entirely on donations from the public.