Islamic State militants have killed over 30 patients and staff at an Afghan hospital and wounded twice as many others after managing to disguise themselves as doctors in what some have called an "abhorrent new low."
The Washington Post reports that the IS gunmen, dressed up as doctors and medics, drove an ambulance on Wednesday into Kabul's main military hospital, before opening fire inside and engaging in a battle with security forces that lasted for hours.
"This attack marks an abhorrent new low. Dressing in disguise to shoot at the sick and wounded is a cowardly, wicked act," said Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan ambassador in Washington. "These are forces of evil the world must work together to defeat."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that the attack on the 400-bed hospital "trampled all human values."
"In all religions, a hospital is regarded as an immune site and attacking it is attacking the whole of Afghanistan," he said, according to BBC News.
All attackers were reportedly killed by security forces six hours after the incident began.
While details of the victims who were killed are yet to be released, survivors have been sharing their experiences of the horrific attack. One staff member explained that he saw an attacker "wearing a white coat holding a Kalashnikov and opening fire on everyone, including the guards, patients and doctors."
Another employee wrote on Facebook during the attack: "Attackers are inside the hospital. Pray for us."
Afghanistan continues battling various terror threats in its country, and has been involved in a 16-year conflict with Taliban insurgents. IS, which is mostly active in Iraq and Syria, has expanded its attacks throughout the region, and has 18 affiliates worldwide.
WP said that around 8,400 U.S. troops are still stationed in the country, but American military officials have warned that more could be needed to fight back against radical groups who continue their violent attacks.
Siddiq Siddiqi, the chief spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, said last week that "we are on the front lines of a fight that can affect the world, and we can't let Afghanistan become a global terrorist center."
Siddiqi added, "We have made a lot of sacrifices, but we need more help, especially in counterterrorism."
Inayatulhaq Yasini of BBC Afghan suggested that IS is looking to change its tactics when it comes to its battle in Afghanistan.
"Previously they have targeted civilian gatherings, mainly of Shia Muslims, as well as causing carnage at the Supreme Court last month," Yasini explained.
"But at the hospital they used an approach more commonly associated with the Taliban — blowing the gates open to allow gunmen to enter. This suggests they now have the resources and the military training to expand their attacks," he added, warning that this could mean that more assaults are coming.