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Three Americans have been shot dead by a rogue cop at a children hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, US officials say.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry described those killed as “medical staff”.
It was unclear whether the cop was dead or in custody.
Afghanistan suffered a spate of deadly attacks in the run-up to presidential elections held on April 5, including a restaurant bombing in January and an attack on a hotel in March.
Three Americans have been killed at a children hospital in Kabul run by US charity CURE
Thursday’s attack took place at a hospital in western Kabul run by CURE, a small US Christian charity.
The US embassy in Kabul tweeted that it was “with great sadness we confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack on CURE Hospital”. No other information would be released for the moment, it added.
Police say that the attack happened when a policeman at a nearby checkpoint opened fire on a group of five or six foreigners who were entering the hospital in western Kabul.
A spokesman for the interior ministry said that three had died, including two women. Others were being treated for their injuries, officials said.
Some reports say that the policeman, who was named as Ayunullah, shot himself after the incident. But the Reuters news agency says that he is wounded and in police custody.
The charity CURE took over the hospital seven years ago and restored it to specialize in providing healthcare for women and children. The 100-bed hospital employs 27 doctors and 64 nurses, CURE says.
It is the second attack on a Christian target in the city this year.
In March, the Taliban attacked a guest house used by foreigners working for a faith-based agricultural charity.
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Four UN employees and a senior IMF official were among 21 people killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack on Taverna du Liban restaurant in Kabul, officials say.
Wabel Abdallah, the head of the IMF’s Afghanistan office, and the UN civilian staff died in what UN chief Ban Ki-moon said was a “horrific attack”.
Canadians, Lebanese, Britons and Americans were among the 13 foreign victims; the other eight were Afghans.
The Taliban said they carried out the attack late on Friday.
Five women were among the dead at the city’s popular Taverna du Liban, and at least five were injured, police say.
The restaurant in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan area is popular with foreign nationals, diplomats and aid workers, and was busy with diners at the time of the attack.
A suicide attacker detonated his explosives outside the gate of the heavily fortified restaurant, Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.
Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said two gunmen then entered the restaurant and started “indiscriminately killing” people inside.
Four UN employees and a senior IMF official were among 21 people killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack on Taverna du Liban restaurant in Kabul
IMF chief Christine Lagarde later confirmed that Wabel Abdallah, 60, a Lebanese national, was among those who died.
“This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated,” Christine Lagarde said in a statement.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned “in the strongest terms the horrific attack”, his spokesman said.
“Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law. They must stop immediately,” Ban ki-moon was quoted as saying.
At least two US citizens died in the attack, the US embassy in Kabul said.
Kamal Hamade, the well-known Lebanese owner of the restaurant, and five women were among the dead. A number of people were injured.
“I was sitting with my friends in the kitchen when an explosion happened and smoke filled the kitchen,” Abdul Majid, a chef at the restaurant, told AFP news agency.
“A man came inside shouting and he started shooting. One of my colleagues was shot and fell down. I ran to the roof and threw myself to the neighboring property.”
The attackers were eventually shot dead by the security forces when they arrived at the scene.
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At least 10 Afghans have been killed and more than 20 injured in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul.
The bomb went off near a compound where tribal elders are expected to gather next week to discuss a security pact with the US.
No group has said it carried out the attack.
The security pact governs the status of US military personnel staying in Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal of most international forces in 2014.
It will be discussed next week by Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, the traditional council of elders.
Those killed in Saturday’s attack include a police officer. Many of the other casualties appear to have been civilians.
Police say the attacker crashed a vehicle filled with explosives into an Afghan army vehicle when soldiers identified it as a threat and opened fire.
At least 10 Afghans have been killed and more than 20 injured in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul
Although no group has said it was behind the blast, correspondents say suspicion is likely to fall on the Taliban, which opposes the foreign military presence in Afghanistan and has carried out previous attacks in Kabul.
The blast occurred less than 100m from a large tent where more than 2,000 prominent Afghans will gather on Thursday to debate the security pact with the US.
The security agreement must be approved by the Loya Jirga and parliament before it can come into force.
Among other issues, the pact covers the key issue of whether US military personnel will enjoy immunity from prosecution in Afghanistan.
Hours before the blast, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said negotiators had completed a draft of the accord, the Associated Press news agency reports. But he added that there were “still some differences”.
The president also called on the Taliban to attend the Loya Jirga.
“We invite them, please come to this national Jirga of Afghanistan, raise your voice, raise your objection.”
Between 5,000 and 10,000 US military personnel are due to remain in the country beyond the end of 2014, when most of the Nato-led international force is due to have left Afghanistan.
The US is expected to focus on training and mentoring Afghan security forces as well as combating al-Qaeda.
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Taliban militants have attacked Spozhmai Hotel outside Kabul in the Lake Qargha area, triggering a deadly gun battle with Afghan security forces and a hostage crisis.
Three guards and one police officer were killed, as were three militants, but two are still fighting, according to the chief of Kabul police.
An unknown number of people have been taken hostage, including women and children, but 18 have been freed.
The Taliban claimed the attack. Lake Qargha is on the outskirts of Kabul and is favored by residents of the Afghan capital for day trips and family outings.
The gunmen, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, launched the attack on the hotel late on Thursday, officials say.
Taliban militants have attacked Spozhmai Hotel outside Kabul in the Lake Qargha area, triggering a deadly gun battle with Afghan security forces and a hostage crisis
“Police forces have besieged the hotel where people gathered for a picnic or wedding party,” Kabul deputy police chief Daoud Amin told the AFP news agency.
“We will be very careful so that not to harm to civilians,” he added.
Some guests reportedly jumped out of hotel windows to flee from the attackers.
An unknown number remain inside.
The US-led coalition is providing support to the Afghan security forces, who are trying to flush out the insurgents from the hotel.
Reuters news agency quotes the Taliban as saying they attacked the hotel because wealthy Afghans and foreigners used it for “wild parties”.
Violence has recently increased across the country, with at least three US soldiers and about 20 Afghans killed in a series of attacks over the past seven days.
The attacks come as NATO prepares to hand responsibility to Afghan forces when the alliance’s combat troops leave in 2014.
At least 12 Turkish soldiers and two children have been killed after a NATO helicopter has fallen on a house in Kabul, Afghan officials say.
The Turkish helicopter crashed into a house in Bagrami, a suburb of the Afghan capital, after developing technical problems, a police source told Reuters.
According to a NATO official, there were no reports of insurgent activity.
At least 12 Turkish soldiers and two children have been killed after a NATO helicopter has fallen on a house in Kabul
Turkey, the only Muslim-majority member of NATO, currently has 1,845 soldiers serving as peacekeepers in Afghanistan.
Its soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are limited to patrols and do not take part in combat operations.
A diplomat at the Turkish foreign ministry in Ankara confirmed for AFP news agency that a Turkish helicopter had crashed in Kabul.
At least 54 people have been killed after a bomb exploded at a packed mosque in Afghanistan as people celebrated a major Shi’ite festival in Kabul.
Bodies lie strewn on the ground after the powerful bomb killed the people at a shrine by the river in Kabul’s old city.
People rush to the scene to help those injured in the blast, people who moments earlier had been praying and chanting with scores of other worshippers.
Another 4 people were killed and 17 injured after a bicycle bomb exploded near the main mosque in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif shortly afterwards.
One witness said the bomber was at the end of a line and detonated his explosives near one of the gates to the shrine.
Bodies of the dead lay on top of one another where they fell.
At least 54 people have been killed after a bomb exploded at a packed mosque in Afghanistan as people celebrated a major Shi'ite festival in Kabul
It was the single deadliest attack in Kabul for more than three years.
Religiously motivated attacks on Shi’ites are rare in Afghanistan, although they are common in neighbouring Pakistan.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, reminiscent of the wave of sectarian violence that shook Iraq during the height of the war there.
The Ministry of Interior blamed the Taliban and “terrorists”. It said police had defused another bomb in Mazar-i-Sharif.
The Taliban strongly condemned the two attacks and said that they deeply regretted that innocent Afghans were killed and wounded.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it was unprecendented and the first time one had been carried out during a religious event.
The blasts happened in the middle of the Ashura festival – which marks the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680 – at around 7:30 a.m. GMT.
It is the biggest event in the Shi’ite calendar and features large processions that are vulnerable to militant attacks.
Afghanistan has a history of tension and violence between Sunnis and the Shi’ite minority, but since the fall of the Taliban the country had been spared the large scale sectarian attacks that have troubled neighbouring Pakistan.
Shi’ites account for some 20% of the population in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan. The Taliban insurgency has largely avoided fanning secretarian strife.
The bombing is one of the deadliest in the ten years of war since the Taliban regime was ousted.
It comes a day after a major international conference in Bonn, Germany, on the future of international involvement in Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai warned representatives of 85 nations at the conference that his country would need their financial support for at least another decade beyond the 2014 departure of international troops.
Hamid Karzai said: “Together we have spent blood and treasure in fighting terrorism.
“Your continued solidarity, your commitment and support will be crucial so that we can consolidate our gains and continue to address the challenges that remain.”
The conference was overshadowed by a display of bad blood between the U.S. and Pakistan – both of whom have a stake in making Afghanistan safe and solvent.
Pakistan boycotted the conference to protest after an errant U.S. air strike last month killed 24 soldiers along the border with Afghanistan.
Participating nations pledged their support for an inclusive Afghan-led reconciliation process on condition that any outcome must reject violence and terrorism and endorse the Afghan constitution and its guarantee of human rights.