Sunday, April 27, 2014

Afghanistan: Three Americans Killed in Kabul, Another Injured by Afghani Active Shooter

According to, three US citizens, including pediatrician Jerry Umanos, a 57-year-old pediatrician, 57, who was shot and killed on Thursday (April 24) by an Afghan government security officer, the latest in a series of attacks on foreign civilians that have generated shudders amongst aid workers, contractors and journalists.

The doctor’s father and son, ages unknown, were visiting the physician in Kabul when all three Americans were shot and killed.

The gunman shot himself before surrendering to Afghan authorities.

Another American, a female medical worker, age unknown, was wounded in the attack at the Cure International Hospital of Kabul, run by a Pennsylvania-based Christian charity, officials said. 

In keeping with the Hippocratic oath, the medical staff performed surgery on the rogue security officer who killed the three Americans and injured a US medical staff member: 

The assailant who intentionally ended three lives was neutralized by Afghan security personnel before surrendering to police.  

COMMENT: The lesson-learned of late is that foreign aid workers, increasingly, have become an endangered species as they have been forced to be protected by Afghan security forces.

Unfortunately, President Karzi has proclaimed that he does not want foreigners being protected by foreigners, which, as the US plans to exit the country in the near term, places all foreign aid workers at risk.

It is clear that Karzi et. al. want the US to depart sooner rather than later.

In the end, this reality may well force many aid workers from the country earlier than expected.

Among the dead was Jerry Umanos, a 57-year-old pediatrician from Chicago, IL according to his mother-in-law. 

Dr. Umanos had worked in Afghanistan for more than sixteen years after moving to Kabul in 2005. 

In January 2014, a Taliban attack on a popular restaurant in Kabul killed more than a dozen.

On April 4, an Afghan police officer shot two AP journalists working in the eastern province of Khost, killing German photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon.

The hospital shooting is also the second "insider attack" this month by a member of Afghan security forces targeting the very foreigners they were sworn to protect.

While aid groups have been targeted before, the frequency of such attacks has disturbed a community used to the daily risk of working in conflict zones.

"We're not seeing aid workers running for the airport, but many organizations are taking a careful look at their security postures," said Graeme Smith, an analyst in Kabul for International Crisis Group:

Violence has spiked overall in Afghanistan as insurgents have sought to disrupt the April 5 presidential election and insecurity ahead of the troop pullout, nearly thirteen years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban's radical Islamic regime.

Foreign workers who once moved relatively freely--albeit carefully--in the capital are forced to take extraordinary precautions to stat alive.

The Cure hospital, along a busy highway, is regarded as more modern and sanitary than most in Afghanistan. Patients sometimes travel hours by bus to get treatment there. It is guarded by a few private security personnel in addition to Afghan police stationed at nearby checkpoints.

Sadly, though, the Afghan protectors are now viewed as potential assailants.

The hospital assailant served in the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) and was assigned as a guard at the facility, District Police Chief Hafiz Khan said. The APPF is an armed security force under the Interior Ministry that was created to protect foreign organizations. 

The gunman entered the hospital through a visitor's entrance and fired on Umanos and his father and son whom he was greeting at the hospital.

Lately, Umanos is said to have grown worried about his safety in Kabul, telling a friend in the United States that he had been shot at while jogging. 

What is unknown is whether Dr. Umanos reported his being shot at to the authorities.