Women rally to breastfeed babies who have lost their mothers in attack on a maternity hospital in Kabul

A militant attack on a maternity ward in the Afghan capital has killed 24 people including mothers, nurses and newborn babies.

There are at least 20 newborns whose mothers are feared to be dead. Ramazan Ali, a vendor who saw the attack begin, told Reuters: "The attackers were shooting at anyone in this hospital without any reason."

In a moving act of selfless kindness, a number of lactating women have stepped in to feed the babies, according to Afghan news network TOLO News and reports on social media.

Mother of a 14-month-old baby, Feroza Omar, initiated the extraordinary act of kindness after arriving at the Ataturk Hospital in Kabul, where the babies were admitted, soon after the attack.

Omar, who works at the Ministry of Economy, called on others to do the same:

All of us have been damaged by criminals who are destroying humanity in Afghanistan. I am one of those.

After the attack at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in West Kabul, security forces rushed to take the babies to safety and for treatment at Ataturk Children’s Hospital.

The injuries some of the babies have sustained are truly heartbreaking, leading to an outpouring of grief by Afghans on social media.

It is still not clear who carried out the attack at the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital in Kabul, and the Taliban have denied any involvement, as reported by the BBC.

The Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a police commander's funeral that killed at least 32 people, and happened earlier that day Nangarhar, around 100km from Kabul.

Transmission of Covid-19 through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date, and given the health benefits of breast milk for newborns, UNICEF have said that there is “no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding”.

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