An Afghan government security guard opened fire Thursday on a group of foreign doctors at a Kabul hospital, killing three American physicians and wounding a U.S. nurse, officials said.
The shooting at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul was the latest in a string of deadly attacks on foreign civilians in the Afghan capital.
Two of the dead Americans were a father and son, Health Minister Soraya Dalil said, adding that the third American was a Cure International doctor who had worked in Kabul for seven years.
Dalil said an American nurse was also wounded in the attack. Their colleagues at the hospital performed surgery on the shooter, who was wounded during the course of the attack, officials said.
The attacker served in the Afghan Public Protection Force and was assigned to guard the hospital, District Police Chief Hafiz Khan said. He said the man’s motive was not yet clear. The APPF is an armed security force under Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior that was created to protect foreign organizations that hire them.
Later in the afternoon, Dalil said the shooter was recovering from the surgery before being questioned.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed that three American citizens had been killed in the hospital attack, declining to elaborate. Bektash Torkystani, an Afghan Health Ministry spokesman, identified the dead as foreign doctors.
According to its website, the Cure International Hospital was founded in 2005 by invitation of the Afghan Health Ministry. It sees 37,000 patients a year, specializing in child and maternity health as well as general surgery. It is affiliated with the charity Cure International, which operates in 29 countries.
One of the victims was Chicago pediatrician Dr. Jerry Umanos, his mother-in-law Angie Schuitema said. The Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago on its website said that Umanos worked there as a pediatrician for more than 16 years before moving to Afghanistan in 2005.
The Afghan capital has seen a spate of attacks on foreign civilians in 2014, a worrying new trend as the U.S.-led military coalition prepares to withdraw most troops by the end of the year.
It was unclear whether the Taliban were behind Thursday’s shooting, though the insurgents have claimed several major attacks that killed foreign civilians this year, an escalation of such attacks after years of mostly targeting foreign military personnel and Afghan security forces.
The hospital shooting is also the second “insider attack” by a member of Afghan security forces targeting foreign civilians this month.
On April 4, an Afghan police officer shot two Associated Press journalists working in the eastern province of Khost, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.