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Expatriate workers on edge as US doctor killed in Kabul ‘Nowhere in Afghanistan is now safe’

KABUL, April 25, (AFP): Anew Taleban tactic, a series of random incidents or a sign of increasing xenophobia? The latest killing of foreigners in Afghanistan has raised troubling questions as US-led troops leave the country. Twice in the last month, rogue policemen have opened fire on foreign civilians in unprovoked attacks that join a growing list of assaults deliberately targeting international workers. On Thursday, a police officer on duty outside the CURE International hospital in Kabul shot dead three Americans including a doctor, in an attack that left many expatriates fearing that nowhere in Afghanistan is now safe. “What can you do when an individual policeman starts shooting like that?” Emanuele Nannini, coordinator at the Italian-run Emergency hospital, another respected medical facility in Afghan capital, told AFP. “Perhaps he was just a crazy individual, had some personal grievances or religious reasons, but it is very difficult to explain.

This was a good doctor who didn’t deserve to die. “Afghanistan has actually been quite safe for foreign doctors and nurses, so it was such a strange attack.” Taleban militants, engaged in a bloody insurgency against the US-led foreign intervention in Afghanistan, did not claim responsibility for the shooting, and the motive remains unclear. “The simple truth is there are a lot of people with guns in this country — including the police — and that creates a major risk in itself,” said Nannini, who vowed that Emergency’s work helping war victims would not be affected. The range of targets hit this year include Kabul’s most prestigious hotel, a restaurant popular with western diplomats, a guesthouse used by a US antilandmine charity and a Swedish radio journalist shot in daylight on a busy street The attack on the Taverna du Liban restaurant in January was among the most shocking as gunmen mowed down diners and staff, killing 21 people including 13 foreigners enjoying an evening out at a low-key social venue. Earlier this month a police commander killed an Associated Press (AP) photographer and badly injured a journalist as they covered election preparations in the eastern province of Khost.

That shooting followed an attack on the luxury Serena hotel in Kabul which left four foreigners and one local AFP reporter and his family among nine dead when four gunmen evaded security checks and ran amok in the restaurant. “After each attack, everyone says it is a new Taleban tactic to target foreigners, but incidents like the hospital shooting are very particular and don’t always prove a trend,” said Justine Piquemal, director of ACBAR, which represents many aid groups. “Many Afghans fear for the future of their country as NATO troops withdraw and as the level of foreign support seems uncertain. That doesn’t explain these incidents, and we have to be very careful. “Security is already so high and sometimes we can’t do anymore, but we are determined to keep working.

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