KABUL: Three Americans were killed on Thursday when a security guard opened fire at a Kabul hospital funded by a U.S. Christian charity, in the latest of a spate of attacks on foreign civilians in Afghanistan.
Attacks on security forces, Afghan civilians and Westerners have been on the rise since the beginning of the year, as Western forces prepare to leave the country and Afghans choose a new president.
"We can confirm three Americans were killed," said a U.S. embassy official, without providing further details. A fourth American was wounded, the Afghan Health Ministry said.
The attacker, a policeman employed as a security guard at the Cure Hospital, was captured, the ministry said. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for similar attacks this year, but made no comment about Thursday's shooting.
Those killed included a doctor, and a father and son visiting the hospital, Health Minister Suriya Dalil said.
"As they were walking out of the hospital, the security guard opened fire on them, killing three and wounding another one," an Interior Ministry official said.
The shooting occurred in the grounds of the Cure Hospital which specializes in children's and maternal health. It is considered one of the country's leading hospitals as well as being a training institution.
"They were not the people carrying guns, they did not have military uniforms, they came here under immense pressure and were here only to serve the people of Afghanistan," Dalil said.
"This was an inhumane and brutal action, and unfortunately will impact our health services."
The Cure organization began operating the hospital in 2005, at the invitation of the Afghan government, and 27 doctors and 64 nurses work there, according to Cure's website.
The attack came nearly three weeks after Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, wounded while they were sitting in the back of a car in the east of the country.
The assault on the journalists came shortly after an Afghan journalist with the Agence France-Presse news agency was killed alongside eight other people when Taliban gunmen opened fire inside a luxury hotel in the center of Kabul.
Also in March, a gunman shot dead Swedish journalist Nils Horner, 51, outside a restaurant in Kabul.
Eight Afghans and 13 foreigners were killed in January when a Taliban suicide bomber and gunmen attacked a restaurant in Kabul's diplomatic district.-Reuters