Gunmen have stormed a hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, setting off a gun battle with government forces, officials said.
Afghan forces carried out newborn babies and their mothers as they evacuated the government-run hospital, where the medical charity Doctors Without Borders runs a maternity clinic.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said that over 80 women and babies were evacuated by Afghan security forces as the firefight got under way.
Photos shared by the ministry show newborn babies and their mothers being carried out of the hospital located in Dashti Barchi neighbourhood of Kabul.
“The forces are trying to eliminate the terrorists and bring the situation under control,” said Arian. He later added that at least one of the attackers was shot dead.
A paediatrician who fled the hospital told AFP he heard a loud explosion at the entrance of the building.
“The hospital was full of patients and doctors; there was total panic inside,” he told AFP, asking not to be named.
Black smoke rose into the sky over the hospital in Dashti Barchi, a mostly Shia neighbourhood that has been the site of past attacks by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group.
A series of deady attacks
The 100-bed government-run facility is supported by Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health.
A series of deadly attacks has taken place in the capital in recent months claimed by the ISIL group.
On Monday, security forces said they had arrested three senior ISIL members including a regional leader.
Last week, security forces killed and arrested several members of an ISIL cell that authorities said was responsible for several high-profile attacks in Kabul including one on a Sikh temple in March.
Roadside blasts in the capital on Monday, which wounded four civilians, were claimed by the group.
Afghanistan is also facing violence around the country from the Taliban even as the United States tries to usher in peace talks after signing a troop withdrawal agreement in February with the armed group.