Center for Strategic Communication

An Afghan police officer opened fire on American medical personnel at a hospital run by a Christian charity in Kabul, killing three Americans and wounding another. The motive for the attack has not been disclosed, but given its nature, the Taliban are likely involved.

The policeman, who is a member of the Afghan Public Protection Force, opened fire on the American medical personnel at the CURE hospital in the capital. A pediatrician and two other medical workers are thought to have been killed and a nurse was injured in the attack, US military officials told The Long War Journal. The police officer was wounded and is in custody.

The US Embassy in Kabul has confirmed that three Americans were killed, in a statement released on its Twitter feed.

“With great sadness we confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack on CURE Hospital,” the US Embassy stated on its Twitter account after the attack. “No other information will be released at this time.”

The hospital where the attack took place is run by CURE, a Christian charity that “delivers life-changing medical care and the good news of God’s love to children and families with treatable conditions.”

The CURE hospital in Kabul was established in 2005 after it “accepted an invitation from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health to assume control of both a partially restored hospital and a nearby outpatient clinic in Kabul,” the Charity states on its website.

“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,” according to CURE.

The Taliban have not released a statement on the attack, but the group has explicitly stated that it has infiltrated the Afghan National Security Forces and also seeks to target Christian charities and symbols in the country.

At the end of March, a Taliban suicide assault team attacked a guesthouse run by Roots of Peace, an American charity, and the Taliban declared afterward that the building was targeted because the charity ran a “church belonging to US embassy for converting the Afghans to Christianity, an abolished religion.” [See LWJ report, Taliban continue to launch suicide assaults in Kabul.]

The Taliban have devoted significant efforts to stepping up attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the ranks of Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar said as much in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year [2011],” and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

Although today’s attack is not technically an insider, or green-on-blue attack, in which Afghan forces turn their guns on Coalition military and civilian personnel, it is the second attack this month in which Afghan security personnel turned their weapons on Westerners. In early April, “an Afghan police commander opened fire” on an Associated Press reporter and a photographer as they were in their car “after shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ — or God is Great, witnesses said,” AP reported. The photographer was killed and the reporter was seriously wounded in the attack.

The Taliban have continued to target foreign civilians in Kabul. One of the larger attacks took place on March 21, when a suicide assault team struck at the Serena Hotel. Several foreigners, including an election observer from Paraguay, were killed in the attack.