World News

Thursday 31 July 2014

US medics killed in hospital attack

Published 24/04/2014|10:42

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Women leave the Cure Hospital after three foreigners were killed in Kabul April 24, 2014. Three foreigners were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at Cure Hospital, an international hospital, in the Afghan capital, Kabul, security sources said, in the latest of a series of attacks against foreign civilians. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST HEALTH)
Women leave the Cure Hospital after three foreigners were killed in Kabul April 24, 2014. Three foreigners were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at Cure Hospital, an international hospital, in the Afghan capital, Kabul, security sources said, in the latest of a series of attacks against foreign civilians. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST HEALTH)
An Afghan policeman stands at the gate of Cure Hospital after three Americans were killed in Kabul April 24, 2014
An Afghan policeman stands at the gate of Cure Hospital after three Americans were killed in Kabul April 24, 2014
Afghan police forces walk in front of the main gate of Cure International Hospital in Kabul (AP)

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

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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 this year.

Two of the dead Americans were a father and son, minister of health Soraya Dalil said, adding that the third American was a Cure International doctor who had worked in Kabul for seven years.

Ms Dalil said an American nurse was also wounded in the attack.

"A child specialist doctor who was working in this hospital for the last seven years for the people of Afghanistan was killed and also two others who were here to meet him, and they were also American nationals," she said. "The two visitors were father and son, and a woman who was also in the visiting group was wounded."

The attacker was a member of the Afghan Public Protection Force assigned to guard the hospital, according to District Police Chief Hafiz Khan. He said the man's motive was not yet clear.

The gunman, who was detained, was wounded during the attack and underwent surgery at midday in the same medical facility under heavy police guard, according to Kanishka Bektash Torkystani, a health ministry spokesman.

Later in the afternoon, Ms Dalil said the gunman was recovering from the surgery before being questioned. Initial reports indicate he was shot by other security forces, said Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Mr Torkystani said: "Five doctors had entered the compound of the hospital and were walking toward the building when the guard opened fire on them. Three foreign doctors were killed."

The US Embassy in Kabul confirmed that three American citizens had been killed in the hospital attack but said it had no other information. It did not confirm Afghan reports that the three were doctors.

According to its website, the Cure International Hospital was founded in 2005 by invitation of the Afghan Ministry of Health. 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 today'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.

In January, a Taliban attack on a popular Kabul restaurant with suicide bombers and gunmen killed more than a dozen people, while 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 staff working in the eastern province of Khost, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Violence and insecurity have been spiraling in Afghanistan amid uncertainties surrounding the April 5 presidential election and the upcoming withdrawal at the end of the year of most international troops. An international military coalition has been in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamic government for sheltering al-Qaida leaders in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Press Association

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