Two American doctors — a father and a son — were killed by an Afghan security guard at a Kabul hospital this week as well as a third doctor. The guard also wounded two others, including an American nurse. The Taliban and extreme Muslim clerics have called for attacks on foreigners, including those who are in the country to feed and heal Afghan citizens. What is most striking about this story is that, after gunning down innocent doctors and nurses, the life of the guard was then saved in surgery at the very same hospital by doctors that he did not shoot.
It is a contrast that is both tragic and poetic. Religious extremists have convinced Afghan militants and turncoats that even killing healers will please Allah and guarantee them a place in heaven. They seem to accept that perversity with question, even in a place where these doctors are healing their fellow countrymen. Five doctors were walking toward the hospital to heal people and this guard could only see targets in a holy war — tickets to paradise.
It is a scene that shows how entrenched religious extremism remains in the country and how such views cannot be altered even in the presence of humanitarian work by these doctors. Health care and charity workers remain a prime target for extremists.
The names of this father and son have not been released but the tragedy is unfathomable for this family — or the family of the other doctor. They died in the highest pursuit of the medical profession in seeking help the suffering in a war-torn nation. That must be of some solace for the family but it clearly will not be a substitute for the loss of these loved ones.