‘It’s a Massacre’: Blast in Kabul Deepens Toll of a Long War

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At Malalai maternity hospital, near the carnage, health workers said the explosion had briefly interrupted their work, and jolted patients out of their beds. Then, the staff continued to bring new life into a violent world.

“It has become normal in Afghanistan,” a midwife said. “Every day, we hear these kind of sounds.”

Others at the hospital were deeply affected. Abdul Khaliq, who anxiously waited in the hospital yard, said his sister-in-law had given birth through cesarean section just days ago.

“During the suicide attack, she was at the hospital and now she is shocked. She doesn’t want to breast-feed her baby,” Mr. Khaliq said. “Her doctor is trying to convince her that everything is O.K., but she cries and says nothing.”

5 of the Deadliest Terrorist Attacks on Afghan Civilians in 2017

On successive weekends in January this year, Kabul was struck by two major terrorist attacks that killed at least 117 people. The last half of 2017 saw five attacks that left 37 or more dead.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the chief of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, condemned the attack as “nothing short of an atrocity” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

“I am particularly disturbed by credible reports that the attackers used a vehicle painted to look like an ambulance, including bearing the distinctive medical emblem, in clear violation of international humanitarian law,” Mr. Yamamoto said

Later in the day, family members lined up outside the morgue at the Kabul forensic medical department, trying to identify their loved ones. The staff could not draw a list of the victims because most were unidentifiable, or did not carry any documentation.

After the remains were cleaned, the staff lined them up in the yard outside and allowed family members to walk around and identify them. Once remains were identified, the morgue staff would write the name on the forehead, or on the chest if the head was missing.

For some, though, the search continued.

“My cousin was a police officer; he was the person who stopped the ambulance laden with explosives,” said Attaul Haq, 36, who waited outside the morgue. “He was 28, he had a son and a daughter.”

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