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Hospital Guard Kills Three Americans as Foreigners Targeted Again in Afghanistan

Three Americans, including a Chicago doctor, were shot dead at a Kabul hospital after an armed guard turned his gun on them.

by Ali M Latifi
Apr 24 2014, 6:00pm

Photo via AP

A guard in a private hospital in Kabul has killed three Americans after turning his gun on hospital staff, the latest in a series of attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan.

Among the foreign deaths were Dr Jerry Umanos, a Chicago-based pediatrician who had been working in the CURE International hospital for seven years, and a father and son said to be visiting Dr Umanos. One American nurse was also injured in the shooting.

Officials at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health said five doctors were approaching the building when the gunman opened fire on them. One Afghan doctor, who arrived at the hospital after the attack, described seeing "blood everywhere near the entrance."

No group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Another Afghan physician stated that that the hospital's entire staff — both local and foreign — was still in a state of shock.

Shortly after the incident, CURE doctors began to treat the attacker for wounds he sustained when security guards fired on him. Doctors told VICE News that they were uncertain of how to deal with the assailant's wounds, but in the end decided that as physicians they must treat the injured man.

This footage shows the aftermath of the attack on Thursday at the private hospital in Kabul.

The Thursday morning shooting at the children’s hospital in West Kabul marks the second time in a month that foreign nationals have been killed in Afghanistan. The assailant was himself said to be a member of the hospital’s security staff.

The attacker, a guard provided by the Ministry of Interior, was one of the few armed security officers in the compound. As with many other establishments in the capital, the CURE International hospital had both unarmed and armed guards — the Afghan Public Protection Force — who would screen visitors before entering the building.

No group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last month, a member of the Afghan National Police force shot two foreign journalists in the eastern province of Khost. The April 4 shooting, coming just days before the nation’s presidential elections, resulted in the death of Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus and the injury of Kathy Gannon, who were both working for the Associated Press news agency at the time.

The attacker in the April shooting was said to be angered by a January NATO airstrike in the northern province of Parwan that reportedly led to the deaths of eight civilians — including women and children.

The CURE International hospital first opened its doors in 2005. The facility, which specializes in child and maternal health, has seen around 300,000 patients in its nine years in the nation.

Foreigners in Afghanistan on edge again after another journalist is killed. Read more here.

The hospital is part of a network of hospitals across 10 countries led by Pennsylvania-based Christian charity, Cure International.

The mission statement of that organization is “curing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God.” However, staff at the hospital maintain that they have never been proselytized to and that there is no ministering at the Kabul facility.

Last month, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack on a West Kabul building they claimed was being used by Christian missionaries.

Follow Ali M Latifi on Twitter: @alibomaye