KABUL — An Afghan security guard shot and killed three Americans at a hospital in Kabul 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.
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."
The identities or titles of the victims were not released. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed that three Americans were killed but did not give any further information.
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 about 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 earlier in the day.
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.
The attacker, who eyewitnesses said was a policeman, 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 attack at the Cure International Hospital, which specializes in child and maternity health, is the latest incident in which Afghan security forces have targeted foreigners. 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.
Earlier this month, an Afghan police officer shot two Associated Press staff working in the eastern province of Khost, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding veteran correspondent Kathy Gannon.
Commenting on the security in the capital, Sediqi said, "It's about an act of one person," adding that it is still not known if 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: Associated Press