By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and HARIS KAKAR
AUG. 5, 2014
KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan soldier killed a United States Army major general and wounded a German brigadier general and at least 14 other foreign and Afghan military service members on Tuesday at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the American-led coalition said Tuesday. The major general appeared to be the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities overseas since the Vietnam War.
The coalition officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a senior Afghan commander also was among the wounded. The officials declined to identify any of the victims by name. The identity of the gunman was not disclosed, either.
The German military confirmed that one of its brigadier generals serving in Afghanistan was among 15 coalition-led troops wounded in the shooting, described as “presumably an internal attack.” The general was being treated for his injuries, which were not life-threatening, the Germans said in a statement.
Other details of the shooting were sketchy, and the coalition, in an official statement, would only confirm that one of its service members had been killed in what it described as “an incident” at the Marshall Fahim National Defense University in Kabul. The coalition declined to specify any further details, saying it was still working to notify the family of the deceased.
Tensions at the military academy ran high in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which took place around noon, and foreign troops appeared to be on edge, fearful of another attack.
Massoud Hossaini, a photographer for The Associated Press, said that he arrived at the camp’s gate ahead of other journalists, and just as coalition armored vehicles were pulling out of the compound. A coalition soldier manning the roof-mounted gun on one of the vehicles shouted for Mr. Hossaini to “get away,” and then fired an apparent warning shot.
“I don’t know what he fired. It was fired near our car,” he said, adding that he left the scene straight away.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that a “few people were wounded” in the shooting, and that they had been immediately evacuated to a hospital. It described the attacker as “wearing Afghan National Army uniform,” which has long been a standard description offered after Afghan troops attack their foreign counterparts.
Other Afghan and coalition officials said they believed the gunman was an Afghan soldier. The coalition, in its brief statement, said the incident had involved “local Afghan and ISAF troops,” using the initials for the International Security Assistance Force, the formal name of the NATO-led coalition.
Sher Alam, an Afghan soldier guarding the entrance to the academy, located at Camp Qargha, said that senior Afghan and coalition officers had been meeting there on Tuesday, and that reports from inside the camp indicated that a number of the foreign officers were shot in the attack. He said that soon after the shooting, coalition helicopters landed inside the academy to evacuate the victims.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Until Tuesday, no officer in the American military of major general rank or higher had been reported killed by hostile action abroad since the Vietnam War. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial database, Maj. Gen. John Albert B. Dillard Jr. was killed on May 12, 1970 when his helicopter was shot down. Rear Adm. Rembrandt Cecil Robinson, the Navy’s equivalent of a major general, was killed on May 8, 1972, when his helicopter crashed.
Lt. Gen. Timothy L. Maude, who was the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon, according to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.
The shooting Tuesday was the first so-called insider attack in Afghanistan in months. Such attacks, in which Afghan troops open fire on unsuspecting coalition forces, at one point posed a serious challenge to the war effort, sowing distrust and threatening to upend the American-led training mission that is vital to the long-term strategy for keeping the Taliban at bay.
Though the number of attacks has dropped sharply since 2012, when dozens occurred, they remain a persistent threat for coalition troops serving alongside Afghan forces.
Afghan and American commanders have said that they believed most of the insider attacks that had taken place were the work of ordinary soldiers who had grown alienated and angry over the continued presence of foreign troops here, and not carried out by Taliban fighters planted in Afghan units.
The Taliban, which often takes credit for insider attacks, had no immediate comment on Tuesday. Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents, said he was still trying to collect information about the incident.
But, he added, the Taliban had many people inside the camp, and that one of their loyalists could have been responsible for the attack.
Ahmad Shakib and Jawad Sukhanyar in Kabul contributed reporting. Reporting was contributed by Melissa Eddy from Berlin, and Patrick J. Lyons, Rick Gladstone and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from New York.