6 اگست، 2014

US General is Killed in Attack at Afghan Base, Officials Say افغان بیس پر حملے میں امریکی جنرل ہلاک


Kabul: An Afghan soldier shot a U.S. Army major general to death and wounded a German brigadier general and at least 14 other foreign and Afghan military service members Tuesday at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the U.S.-led coalition said Tuesday. The major general appeared to be the highest-ranking member of the U.S. military to die in hostilities overseas since the Vietnam War.

The coalition officials 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, but a Pentagon spokesman told reporters in Washington that he had been killed.

The Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, also said officials believed the gunman was "a member of the Afghan national security forces," but he had no other details about him or the circumstances of the shooting.

Kirby also said the shooting, the first so-called insider attack in months in Afghanistan, was an inherent risk of the war, calling it "a pernicious threat and always difficult to ascertain."

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 Marshal 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 he arrived at the camp's gate before 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 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. In images of the incident released by the AP, the coalition soldier appeared to be firing a warning flare.

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.

Sher Alam, an Afghan soldier guarding the entrance to the academy, located at Camp Qargha, said senior Afghan and coalition officers had been meeting there Tuesday, and that reports from inside the camp indicated that a number of the foreign officers were shot in the attack. He said soon after the shooting, coalition helicopters landed inside the academy to evacuate the victims.

Until Tuesday, no officer in the U.S. 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.

Five other U.S. officers of comparable rank were killed in the war, all in air crashes, whether accidental or caused by hostile action.

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, Pennsylvania.

Insider attacks in Afghanistan, 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 U.S.-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. "It's impossible to completely eliminate that threat, particularly in a place like Afghanistan," Kirby said.

Afghan and U.S. 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, did not assert responsibility for the Tuesday shooting. But Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgents, said in an emailed statement that the gunman was an "Afghan hero soldier who turned his weapon against foreign invaders."
© 2014, The New York Times News Service

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