Dhaka - Surgeons in Bangladesh have performed what they are calling the country's first successful separation of conjoined twins in a "groundbreaking" and complex operation.
Tofa and Tahura, ten-month-old sisters who were born conjoined at the spine and rectum, were separated by a team of two dozen doctors Tuesday at Bangladesh's largest hospital in the capital Dhaka.
Paediatric surgeon Abdul Hanif said the twins were in a stable condition after the delicate nine-hour procedure.
"It is the first time we have successfully separated conjoined twins in Bangladesh," Hanif, from Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told AFP.
"It's a groundbreaking operation in our medical history. It was an extremely complex operation." The twins will undergo at least two further operations to restructure their internal organs, Hanif added.
The surgery had been "100 per cent successful" but the twins would remain in intensive care for some time to ensure no infections developed, said another doctor, Shahnoor Islam.
Born to a poor couple, the twin sisters - who do not use a surname - were brought to Dhaka a month ago.
Their mother, Shahida Begum, wept following the surgery, describing her tension and joy at news the operation had been a success.
"Doctors said the surgery was successful, but they are not out of risk yet. I pray to God for my kids' quickest recovery. Let their pain be gone."
Another pair of Bangladeshi twins conjoined at the skull are awaiting a complex medical procedure in Dhaka.
The surgery is unprecedented in Bangladesh, and doctors are consulting medical opinions from across the globe as they prepare for the operation.
Doctors are trying to establish whether the one-year-old girls - born otherwise healthy in northwest Bangladesh - share the same brain, something that would vastly complicate the surgery.
In rare cases, identical twins can be born with skin and internal organs fused together. About half are stillborn, and the survival rate is between five and 25 per cent.
In 2008 a baby was born in Bangladesh with two heads but died after just two days.