Horrible news from Afghanistan, as the New York Times reports what appears to be the highest-ranking casualty from a “green-on-blue” attack yet:
A United States Army major general was killed on Tuesday by an Afghan soldier, shot at close range at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, an official of the American-led coalition and Afghan media reported Tuesday. The officer was the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities in the Afghanistan war.
The coalition official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and would not release the name of the major general, said an unspecified number of other service members of the American-led coalition and Afghan soldiers, including a senior Afghan commander were also shot. Their conditions were not known.
Other details of the shooting were sketchy, and the coalition official would only confirm that “an incident” had taken place at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy.
Fox News and the Associated Press say at least 15 other people were wounded in the attack:
Details about the attack at Camp Qargha, a base west of the capital, Kabul, weren’t immediately clear. Gen. Mohammmad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, said a “terrorist in an army uniform” opened fire on both local and international troops. Azimi said the shooter had been killed and that three Afghan army officers were wounded.
A U.S. official told The Associated Press that one American soldier was killed and “about a dozen” of the wounded were Americans, but declined to comment further. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss details of the attack by name on the record.
A senior U.S. military official told Fox News that one of the dead was an ISAF service member and the shooting left a “significant number of wounded, both Americans and Afghans.”
Germany’s military said one NATO soldier was killed, while 15 NATO soldiers were wounded in an assault launched “probably by internal attackers.”
In a statement, NATO said that it was “in the process of assessing the situation.”
CNN says one of the wounded was a German brigadier general, and relays reports from the Afghan Defense Ministry that the shooter was a “terrorist,” shot dead by Afghan soldiers at the scene of the attack. Conditions were nevertheless so tense at the camp following this incident that several media organizations report warning shots being fired over the heads of journalists by NATO troops.
Such insider attacks have been on the decline for the past two years, possibly because the American military withdrawal leaves the Taliban and its allies with easier targets, while bitter lone-wolf attackers know it won’t be long before the country is back in Taliban hands anyway. From the Fox News report:
The attack comes as so-called “insider attacks” — incidents in which Afghan security turn on their NATO partners — largely dropped last year. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks. In 2012, such attacks killed 53 coalition troops in 38 separate attacks.
Such “insider attacks” are sometimes claimed by the Taliban insurgency as proof of their infiltration. Others are attributed to personal disputes or resentment by Afghans who have soured on the continued international presence in their country more than a dozen years after the fall of the Taliban’s ultra-conservative Islamic regime.
Foreign aid workers, contractors and other civilians in Afghanistan are increasingly becoming targets of violence as the U.S.-led military coalition continues a withdrawal to be complete by the end of the year.
There was also an incident in which an Afghan police guard got into a firefight with NATO forces near the office of the governor of Paktia province on Tuesday, which may or may not have some relationship to the attack at the military training camp. Tensions are reportedly elevated following a NATO helicopter strike on Taliban missile launchers in western Afghanistan, in which four civilians were killed.