Thursday 27 November 2014

Three US doctors killed in attack at Afghan hospital

Karl Ernst Kabul, Afghanistan

Published 25/04/2014 | 02:30

Afghan policemen stand outside Cure Hospital after three foreigners were killed in Kabul. Three foreigners were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at Cure Hospital, an international hospital, in Kabul, the latest of a series of attacks against foreign civilians. Reuters
Afghan policemen stand outside Cure Hospital after three foreigners were killed in Kabul. Three foreigners were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at Cure Hospital, an international hospital, in Kabul, the latest of a series of attacks against foreign civilians. Reuters
A patient, on a wheelchair, is helped by her relatives while policemen stand guard at the hospital after the attack. Reuters
An Afghan policeman stands at the gate of Cure Hospital after three Americans were killed in Kabul. Reuters

An Afghan government security guard has opened fire on a group of foreign doctors at a Kabul hospital, killing three American physicians and wounding a nurse yesterday.

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. An Afghan policeman was also killed in the gun attack.

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.

Speaking from Chicago last night a family member confirmed that one of the three doctors was a pediatrician from Chicago. "We have lost a dear friend," said James Brooks, the chief ministry officer at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago, where Dr Jerry Umanos had worked for 25 years. "Our clinic is grieving right now. Our hearts are broken."

Angie Schuitema the mother of Dr Umanos' wife said she learned of her son in law's death, first from her son and then from her daughter, Jan Schuitema.

The Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago said on its website that Dr Umanos worked as a pediatrician there for more than 16 years before moving to Afghanistan in 2005.

An American was also wounded in the attack. Colleagues at the hospital performed surgery on the shooter, who was wounded during 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 organisations that hire them.

Later, Minister Dalil said the attacker was recovering from the surgery before being questioned.

The US Embassy in Kabul confirmed that three American citizens had been killed, 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, specialising in child and maternity health as well as general surgery. It is affiliated with the Christian charity Cure International, which operates in 29 countries with the motto "curing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God".

The Afghan capital has seen a spate of attacks on foreign civilians in 2014, a worrying new trend as the US-led military coalition prepares to withdraw most troops by the end of the year.

It was unclear whether the Taliban were behind yesterday'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.

TALIBAN

In January, a Taliban attack on a Kabul restaurant with suicide bombers and gunmen killed more than a dozen people. In March, gunmen slipped past security at an upscale hotel in the Afghan capital and killed several diners in its restaurant. Two foreign journalists were killed and another wounded in two separate attacks.

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.

Violence has been spiraling in Afghanistan amid uncertainties surrounding the April 5th presidential poll and the upcoming international troop withdrawal.

The latest partial election results released yesterday showed front-runner Abdullah Abdullah still leading but far from the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Abdullah, a former foreign minister, had 43.8pc of the vote in results. His closest rival, ex-Finance Minister Ashaf Ghani Ahmadzai, had 32.9pc.

Irish Independent

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