Kabul: At least 25 people were killed and more than 50 wounded when gunmen attacked Afghanistan's biggest military hospital after two heavy explosions at the site in central Kabul, officials said.
The explosions hit the entrance of the 400-bed Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital and were followed with an assault by a group of Islamic State gunmen, all of whom were killed within 15 minutes, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
The Taliban's rivals, ISIS, claimed responsibility for the gun and bomb assault in the centre of the capital.
Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), an affiliate of the terrorist group ISIS, said in a statement on its Telegram channels that "five Islamic State group fighters carried out simultaneous coordinated attacks" on the sprawling site.
"The IS insurgents wanted to target civilians, doctors and patients in the hospital," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, claiming that Taliban forces had repulsed the attack within 15 minutes.
As part of the response, he said, Taliban "special forces" were dropped onto the roof of the hospital from one of the helicopters that the group seized from Afghanistan's former US-backed government.
The attack began when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the facility's entrance. Gunmen then broke into the hospital grounds, firing their weapons.
"Nineteen dead bodies and about 50 wounded people have been taken to hospitals in Kabul," a health ministry official who asked not to be named told AFP.
The Taliban spokesman played down the death count, but confirmed that two Taliban members, two women and a child had been killed outside the hospital.
The Taliban spent 20 years waging an insurgency against the ousted US-backed government.
Now they face the struggle of bringing stability to Afghanistan, which has been hit in recent weeks by a series of bloody assaults claimed by the ISIS's local chapter.