Afghanistan (CURE/MNN) — The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirms an Afghan security guard shot and killed three Americans at the CURE International hospital on Thursday. Officials said the three killed were doctors, including a visiting father and son.
Another doctor and a U.S. nurse were wounded in the attack.
Investigators said a guard suddenly turned his weapon on the staff he was supposed to be protecting and started shooting, before turning the weapon on himself. He is being treated at a military hospital. The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.
One of the American doctors killed in the attack was identified as Dr. Jerry Umanos, according to The Chicago Tribune. Umanos, a pediatrician, was originally from Chicago. He worked at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago until he and his wife moved to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the identities of the father and son have not yet been released.
In the wake of Thursday’s violence, dozens of Afghan national police are stationed in front of the CURE hospital in western Kabul. The facility specializes in child and maternity health and is a few blocks away from the former King’s palace.
It’s the latest incident in which Afghan security forces have increasingly targeted foreigners. Militants have killed more than a dozen foreigners since January 2014.
On Thursday morning, CURE released its first statement on the attack. Additional information was released later in the day by CURE president and CEO Dale Brantner:
It is with deep sadness that I write today, mourning the loss of three lives that were taken by force at the CURE International Hospital compound in Kabul, Afghanistan.
One of these men, Dr. Jerry Umanos, had faithfully served the Afghan people as a pediatrician at the hospital for more than seven years, caring for the most vulnerable members of society–children and premature infants–and helping them survive the harsh realities of childbirth in Afghanistan. We may never know the number of future doctors, teachers, or law enforcement officers who were given the chance to live full and healthy lives because of the work of the CURE International Hospital staff and the service and sacrifice of Jerry and his family.
I knew Jerry personally and can testify to the excellence with which he served and trained Afghan doctors and nurses in the highest quality medical practices. My heart is deeply grieved for his wife and family, as well as the families of the other men killed, who were not employees of CURE International but guests of our hospital. One other guest also sustained a non-life-threatening injury.
The shooter was not an employee of CURE International, but rather a member of the Afghan police detail assigned to protect the hospital. The assailant shot himself after the attack and was taken into surgery by Jerry’s colleagues at the hospital before being transferred out of our facility into the custody of the government of Afghanistan. We don’t yet know the motivation of the assailant and are still working very closely with the Afghan authorities to learn all the details surrounding this tragic incident.
I want to emphasize that CURE International remains committed to loving and serving the people of Afghanistan. We are also deeply committed to protecting the health and welfare of our patients and staff. This is the first fatal incident at our facilities in Afghanistan since coming to the country in 2002, and today’s tragedy reinforces our need for vigilance.
Since 1996, CURE International has been serving children and families in desperate need of surgical care with the highest quality medical techniques, restoring bodies that were broken and bearing witness to the transformation of lives and families throughout the world. We do this not because it is what Jesus would do, but because it is what He did; and so we cannot help but see these needs, know that there is a cure, and meet hurting people where they are. That is what Jerry did, and that is what we are called to do for children and families around the world.
Please pray with the 1,600 CURE employees worldwide that God would comfort the families of these victims as well as all those affected by this tragedy and give them a peace that truly defies human understanding.
Walking in love,
President & CEO
CURE is a non-profit organization that operates in 29 countries. Their Kabul facility has 100 beds but treats around 37,000 patients annually.
Regarding the government invitation, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health asked CURE International to assume control of both a partially restored hospital and a nearby outpatient clinic in Kabul. By the end of that first year, both facilities were fully operational and serving between 2,000 – 3,600 patients each month.
In addition to providing top quality care, the hospital also offers training programs for doctors and nurses to further elevate the level of care provided in the future. Programs include obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, plastic surgery, and general practice.
Today, CURE International Hospital of Kabul is one of the leading medical institutions in Afghanistan. The hospital represents many things to many people. To expecting mothers, it is a haven where they can safely deliver their child.
For children with physical disabilities, it is where they can be made whole. For health care professionals, it is a center of medical excellence where they can receive advanced training and education. For the nation of Afghanistan, it is a source of hope.
But there is another part to CURE. Helping people find the kingdom of God is the other half of what they do. Their mission at CURE International: healing the sick and proclaiming the hope of Christ.