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Afghan soldier guns down US general in Kabul

August 06, 2014 00:39 IST

Afghan soldier guns down US general in Kabul

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A United States general was killed in an attack at a British-run army training centre in Kabul on Tuesday -- the highest-ranking American casualty since the 9/11 attacks.

The shooting, which left more than a dozen other soldiers including a senior German officer wounded, rocked the US-led project to train up the Afghan army as NATO combat forces withdraw after 13 years of fighting the Taliban.

"It's a terrible day. It's a terrible tragedy," Pentagon Spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

"I can... confirm among the casualties was an American general officer who was killed," he said.

"We believe that the assailant was an Afghan soldier," Kirby said.

The Pentagon said the US general killed was "one of the highest-ranking" US military officers killed since 9/11". 

The attack is believed to have been carried by a man, who was dressed as a soldier, who opened fire at an army training base outside Kabul.

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Image: An Afghan National Army soldier keeps watch at the gate of a British-run military training academy Camp Qargha, in Kabul August 5
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

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The White House described it as a "painful reminder" of the service and sacrifice made by Americans in war-torn Afghanistan for more than a decade now.

The United States did not immediately disclose the rank and name of the American general shot down by an Afghan at a military base in Afghanistan.

US media reports said that the top ranking official was a two-star general during the attack at a military base, during which 15 others were injured, including a German general.

US President Barack Obama was briefed about the incident, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.

Following this, Obama spoke to General Joseph Dunford, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, about the tragic incident, he said.

Responding to questions, Earnest said an investigation is currently underway to determine the exact nature of the terrorist attack and who were behind this.

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Image: Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch at the gate of a British-run military training academy Camp Qargha, in Kabul August 5
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

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Noting that there is a detailed protocol in place, Earnest said this would be revisited and necessary changes would be made if required following the investigation on this incident is complete.

"There is an ongoing Department of Defence investigation into the incident," he said.

At the same time, Earnest said that there has been considerable decline in the number of attacks on US forces in Afghanistan of late. But this incident reminds every one of the services and sacrifices made by the US forces in Afghanistan, he said.

Noting that Afghanistan is a dangerous place, the White House Press Secretary said quite a considerable progress has been made in this war torn country, but a lot needs to be achieved.

Earnest exuded confidence that the new Afghan President, to be sworn in after the counting of votes is complete, would sign the bilateral security agreement (BSA) as soon as possible. 

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Image: An Afghan National Army soldier gestures at a car at the gate of a British-run military training academy Camp Qargha, in Kabul
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

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Also known as "green on blue" attacks, the killings have bred fierce mistrust among soldiers and forced joint patrols to be overseen by armed guards.

The Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack, and Western officials say that most such attacks stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than insurgent plots.

"Insider attacks" declined rapidly last year as NATO combat troops closed many bases and reduced operations before their complete withdrawal by the end of this year. Screening of Afghan army recruits was also tightened.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as a "cowardly" strike against Afghan and NATO officers.

"It is the work of those enemies who do not want to see Afghanistan have its own strong institutions," he said.


Image: Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch at the gate of a British-run military training academy Camp Qargha, in Kabul August 5
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

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