An Afghan security officer shot and killed three American doctors trying to help sick kids through a Pennsylvania-based non-profit inside a Kabul children’s hospital today.
The guard opened fire on a group of doctors at at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul also wounding a U.S. nurse, officials said.
Two of the dead were a visiting father and son, Minister of Health Soraya Dalil said, adding that the other victim was a Cure International doctor who had worked for seven years in Kabul.
NBC Chicago identified one of the victims as Chicago area pediatrician Dr. Jerry Umanos.
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," Dalil 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 shot himself and is in custody. He was in surgery at midday in the same medical facility under heavy police guard, according to Kanishka Bektash Torkystani, a Ministry of Health spokesman.
"Five doctors had entered the compound of the hospital and were walking toward the building when the guard opened fire on them," Torkystani said.
The attacker had emerged from surgery in the afternoon and was in recovery at Cure International before being questioned, Dalil added.
The doctors were in Afghanistan working for CURE, a Lemoyne, Cumberland County, Pa.-based charity. According to CURE’s website, the organization helps children with conditions including clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, burns and other ailments.
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. 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."
Andy Groop, Vice President of Operations for CURE International, tells NBC10.com that the organization is in the "midst of collecting information." He said the management team, which is scattered across the world, will make a statement later on Thursday.
The Afghan capital has seen a spate of attacks on foreign civilians in 2014, a worrying new trend as the U.S.-led military coalition prepares to withdraw most troops by the end of the year.
It was unclear whether the Taliban were behind Thursday'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.