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Afghan police stand guard at the gate of the Cure hospital in Kabul on April 24. / Shah Marai, AFP/Getty Images

KABUL - An Afghan security guard allegedly shot and killed three Americans at a hospital in Kabul on Thursday. The three killed were doctors, including a visiting father and son.

Another doctor and a U.S. nurse were wounded in the attack.

District Police Chief Hafiz Khan said a guard suddenly turned his weapon on the staff he was supposed to be protecting at Cure International Hospital and started shooting.

"Five doctors had entered the compound of the hospital and were walking toward the building when the guard opened fire on them," said Kanishka Bektash Torkystani, a Ministry of Health spokesman. "Three foreign doctors were killed."

CNN and The Chicago Tribune reported Jerry Umanos, a pediatrician from Chicago who moved to Afghanistan in 2005, was one of the three Americans killed.

Two of the dead were a visiting father and son, Minister of Health Soraya Dalil said, and the other victim was a Cure International doctor who had worked for seven years in Kabul. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed three Americans were killed but did not provide further information.

The White House released a statement condemning the attack, calling it "despicable and cowardly."

"The United States continues to strongly support those in Afghanistan who abhor this violence and are working to build a peaceful, prosperous future for themselves," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in the statement.

Cure International, which operates the hospital, issued a statement Thursday saying the security guard was not an employee but part of a detail assigned to protect the hospital.

The organization did not say whether it would change practices and pull back aid workers from Afghanistan in the wake of the shooting. "Cure International remains committed to serving the Afghan people," the group said in a statement.

Cure International said the gunman shot and wounded himself after opening fire and was initially treated at the Cure hospital before being transferred to government custody.

Dozens of Afghan national police remained in front of the Cure hospital in western Kabul, just down the street from the former king's palace.

Pacha Mir, 52, was waiting in his taxi in front of the hospital with other taxi drivers when he heard 15 gunshots at around 10:15 a.m. local time. "I was really scared," he said. "Then we started to escape from the area." Mir said he had seen six foreigners enter the hospital that day.

The attacker was taken to a military hospital after being shot in the stomach by other police officers inside the hospital, according to Sediq Sediqi, spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, citing information provided by Afghanistan's Criminal Investigation Department.

"We will find out the motive because he's alive," Sediqi said.

The Cure International Hospital specializes in child and maternity health. Cure is a non-profit organization that operates in 29 countries.

In January, an attack on a popular Kabul restaurant by suicide bombers and gunmen killed more than a dozen people. In March, gunmen slipped past security at an upscale hotel in the Afghan capital and killed several diners in its restaurant.

This month, an Afghan police officer shot two Associated Press staffers working in the eastern province of Khost, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.

Commenting on security in the capital, Sediqi said, "It's about an act of one person," and it was not known whether the attacker had any terrorist connections.

"We are aware of this shooting at the Cure hospital, and our investigation is ongoing, but we do not know if it was carried out by our men," Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told The New York Times.

Afghanistan held a presidential election April 5 with preliminary results due to be released this weekend.

Hjelmgaard reported from London. Contributing: The Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: 3 American doctors shot dead at Afghan hospital

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