Death toll in Afghan attacks rises to 56: officials

Infants and nurses were among the 24 people killed in an attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul on Tuesday (AFP Photo/STR) (AFP)
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The combined death toll from two attacks in Afghanistan, including one on a hospital in which infants and nurses were killed, has risen to 56, health officials said Wednesday.

Three gunmen stormed a Kabul maternity hospital Tuesday as parents brought infants and children for appointments.

The attackers were eventually killed in a lengthy clearance operation during which heavily armed Afghan security forces carried babies from the scene -- at least one wrapped in a blood-soaked blanket.

On Wednesday, Afghanistan's Deputy Health Minister Waheed Majroh said at least 24 people were killed in the attack and another 16 wounded. Authorities had earlier put the death toll at 14.

No group has so far claimed the attack, but President Ashraf Ghani has blamed both the Taliban and the Islamic State group.

Ghani also blamed the two groups for a suicide bombing in the country's restive east, which happened shortly after the hospital assault.

A suicide attacker blew himself up in the middle of a funeral ceremony for a police commander in Nangarhar province.

Provincial health ministry spokesman Zaher Adel said 32 people were killed in the bomb attack and another 132 wounded. Officials had earlier said 24 mourners were killed.

IS claimed the bombing.

After the attacks Ghani ordered Afghan forces to resume strikes against the Taliban.

The Taliban responded by warning it was "fully prepared" to counter Afghan forces.