— An Afghan security guard on Thursday opened fire at an international hospital in Kabul, killing three American doctors. The assailant was shot and wounded by his colleagues and has been hospitalized under police custody. The attack is said to be the sixth deadly incident this year in Afghanistan in which foreign civilians have been targeted.
Afghan Interior Ministry officials say the deadly attack occurred when an Afghan security guard opened fire at Kabul’s Cure International Hospital.
Ministry spokesman Sadiq Sidiqqi said the “unfortunate” incident is under investigation and the assailant's motives have yet to be determined. “The attacker was also shot by the other security guard and he is now under the serious watch of police but he is now in the hospital. We do not yet know the motives and the reasons behind this attack,” he said.
Afghan officials said a fourth American was wounded in the shooting and that two of the dead were father and son physicians who were visiting the hospital at the time of the attack. The third doctor killed had worked at the Kabul facility for seven years.
In a post on its website, CURE said the shooter was not an employee of CURE but a member of the security detail assigned to the hospital. The charity said the assailant "shot himself after the attack" and was initially treated at the CURE hospital before being transferred into the custody of the Afghan government.
In a brief statement on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy said that “with great sadness we can confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack on Cure hospital”.
NATO on Thursday strongly condemned the "heinous" attack, calling it an "appalling crime against civilians who worked to make Afghanistan a better place and to help the sick and injured."
A NATO official added that the process of handing over security to Afghan forces is on track and will be completed at the end of the year. The official said, "we expect there will still be fighting and there will still be an insurgency in 2015, but what matters is that the Taliban do not represent an existential threat to the functioning of the Afghan state."
The hospital run by U.S.-based Christian charity Cure is considered one of the leading health facilities and training institutes in Afghanistan. CURE
says the organization began operating the International Hospital in Kabul in 2005. The group says the hospital is focused on maternity and pediatric care and serves 37,000 patients a year.
Thursday's attack was the latest on foreigners in the war-torn country. Earlier this month, an Afghan policeman opened fire on two Associated Press journalists, wounding the reporter and killing the photographer in the country's east.
It is unclear whether the Taliban is responsible for the shooting, which comes just days after Taliban insurgents stormed Kabul’s Serena Hotel and killed at least 9 people, including a senior Afghan journalist with AFP. In March, a Swedish journalist was gunned down in the highly secured Wazir Akbar Khan residential part of the Afghan capital, while a Taliban assault on a restaurant in Kabul earlier this year killed 21 people, including 13 foreign civilians.