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Newborns Among Dozens Dead In Attacks On Kabul Hospital And Funeral

Gunmen disguised as police have attacked a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing 16 people including two newborn babies from a maternity clinic run by humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders.

In a separate attack on the same day, a suicide bomber struck the funeral of a police commander in the eastern province of Nangahar, killing at least 24 people and injuring 68. Authorities said that toll could rise.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either of Tuesday's attacks. The Taliban, Afghanistan's main Islamist insurgency group, denied involvement in both.

The Taliban has said it has halted attacks on cities under a US troop withdrawal deal.

The Islamic State militant group operates in Nangahar and has carried out a number of high-profile attacks in Kabul in recent months.

On Monday security forces arrested its regional leader in the capital.

Photos from the Ministry of Interior showed two young children lying dead inside the hospital after Tuesday's attack.

An image showed a woman who had been killed lying on the ground still holding tightly to her baby, who a nurse in the unit confirmed had survived and been moved to an intensive care unit at another hospital.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks in a televised address.

He said he had ordered the military to switch to "offensive" mode rather than the defensive stance it had adopted as the US withdraws troops and tries to broker peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

"In order to provide security for public places and to thwart attacks and threats from the Taliban and other terrorist groups, I am ordering Afghan security forces to switch from an active defence mode to an offensive one and to start their operations against the enemies," Ghani said.

National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib said on Twitter, "there seems little point in continuing to engage Taliban in peace talks".

Featured image: AAP