Three Americans from same family among casualties in Kabul

Afghan police officer fires on group of foreigners at Cure hospital

A patient, on a wheelchair, is helped by her relatives while policemen stand guard at the gate of Cure Hospital after three Americans were killed in Kabul. Three Americans were killed on Thursady. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

A patient, on a wheelchair, is helped by her relatives while policemen stand guard at the gate of Cure Hospital after three Americans were killed in Kabul. Three Americans were killed on Thursady. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Fri, Apr 25, 2014, 01:00

Three Americans belonging to one family were among the casualties of a deadly shooting at a Kabul hospital yesterday.

An Afghan police officer who had recently started working as an armed guard at Kabul’s Cure Hospital opened fire on a group of foreigners entering the hospital, killing three men and wounding a woman, local officials said.

Of the three men killed, one was a paediatric specialist who had worked at the hospital for the past seven years. His father was also killed in the attack, and the specialist’s wife was the woman wounded.

The third man has not been identified, but the US embassy confirmed that the three men killed were US citizens.

The hospital is run by US-based Christian medical charity Cure, which runs treatment centres and health programmes in 29 countries.

Kabul’s Cure Hospital specialises in surgery and maternal and child health, treating 37,000 patients annually and hosting one of Afghanistan’s largest premature birth wards.

The police officer, who like many Afghans uses one name – Ayunullah – started his new role about 10 days ago, according to local people who knew him.

Abdul Waseem, a taxi driver stationed outside the hospital, said Ayunullah was a Pashtun from Laghman province.

“He looked about 25 or 28 years old; a young man. He was good, but looking a bit nervous.”

Waseem said that about 10 minutes after a van carrying the Americans had driven through the gates he heard a volley of gunshots.


Wounded
Ayunullah was wounded in the shooting, but it is not clear whether the injury was self-inflicted.

Minister of health Soraya Dalil confirmed that Ayunullah was wounded in the abdomen and was given emergency treatment at Cure hospital.

The injured woman was rushed to another main hospital in Kabul.

Ms Dalil said the impact of the shooting at the hospital would be felt for some time.

“With these kinds of events we could expect there will be some especially psychological consequences on the staff, on the staff morale. But the staff will overcome the situation.”

One member of the hospital staff described the childcare specialist as well liked by those he worked with.

“He was a very humble person and had a very good connection with other Afghans working in Cure Hospital. He was very friendly,” he said.

The motive for the shooting is unclear, but it follows a recent spate of attacks against civilian foreigners working in Afghanistan.

Three weeks ago an Afghan police officer shot two foreign Associated Press journalists in eastern Khost province, killing a photographer and wounding a reporter. The gunman, now in custody, was reported to have been seeking revenge for a Nato-led air strike near his home in Parwan province.

In early March another foreign journalist, Nils Horner, was shot dead in Kabul.

Horner had reportedly been investigating the January attack by Taliban insurgents on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul which was popular with foreigners, killing 21 people. The Fidai Mahaz group with weak links to the Taliban claimed responsibility for his death.

Also in March insurgents killed nine people at Kabul’s heavily guarded Serena hotel, and later attempted to attack a Christian-run day-care centre but ended up fighting the heavily armed guards next door to the compound.

– ( Guardian service)