By Sayed Hasib Maududi, Roshan Noorzai
VOA News | May 27, 2020
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Rafiullah Noori, 35, is not participating in this year’s Eid al-Fitr festivities, a three-day thanksgiving festival celebrated by Muslims around the word to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Noori, a resident of Kabul, lost his 27-year-old wife, Nazia, in the May 12 attack on a maternity ward in western Kabul. The assault shocked the country and risked a new wave of violence between the Afghan army and Taliban militants.
“Believe me, it is painful when I enter the room and look at her clothes and other belongings,” said Noori of the attack at Dasht-e-Barchi hospital shortly after the birth of their daughter. “It is a terrible scene for me.”
Afghan officials say mothers and newborns were among 26 people killed and 20 injured.
Noori told VOA that his daughter Amina — Arabic for “peace” — was shot in the leg.
While the baby remains in the hospital, Noori said he was grateful she is in stable condition, with no need to amputate her leg.
The father of three now must divide his time between home and the hospital, while working to support his family.
He said he struggles on what to say to his two other children, 4-year-old daughter Adina and 2-year-old son Mohammad, when they ask for their mother.
Adina said she believes her mother “is in heaven.” Her father consented to a VOA interview with her.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s main militant group, denied any involvement. Islamic State took responsibility for an attack the same day at a funeral in eastern Nangarhar province that killed over 50 people but has remained silent on the maternity ward assault.
U.S. officials have blamed IS, but the Afghan government said earlier this month that its intelligence showed the attack was jointly carried out by IS and the Haqqani Network, a faction of the Taliban and a designated terror group by the U.S.
The 55-bed maternity ward was opened in 2014 and is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
Atiqullah Qaati, head of the hospital, told VOA that infants who survived the shooting were first sent to nearby medical facilities before being returned to their families.
International organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have strongly condemned the attack, calling it a “war crime.” They have demanded the perpetrators be brought to justice.