U.S. general killed, German general wounded in Afghan attack
KABUL - A U.S. general was killed and more than a dozen people, including a German general, were wounded Tuesday in an insider attack by a man believed to be an Afghan soldier, U.S., German and Afghan officials said.
The slain general, whose identity was not immediately released by the Pentagon, was believed to be the most senior U.S. military official killed in action in Afghanistan since the war there began in 2001.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters that "many were seriously wounded" and the gunman was killed in the attack, which took place on Tuesday at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, a training center in Kabul.
The attack raised fresh questions about the ability of NATO soldiers to train and advise Afghan security forces as western nations gradually withdraw. The U.S. and German generals were on a routine visit, the Pentagon said.
A U.S. official said the gunman fired on the foreign soldiers using a light machine gun. Afghanistan's Defense Ministry described him as a "terrorist in army uniform."
The German military said its general was one of 14 coalition troops wounded in Tuesday's attack. It said his life was not in danger. Seven Americans and five British troops were among the wounded, an Afghan official said.
Past insider attacks have eroded trust while straining foreign efforts to train Afghanistan's 350,000-strong security force and prepare them to fight the Taliban once most U.S. and NATO forces depart.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone with Gen. Joe Dunford, who commands U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan, about the incident, Kirby said. He said the shooting was being investigated jointly by Afghan authorities and the international military coalition that is winding down its long mission in Afghanistan.
The Afghan president was quick to condemn the attack, saying the delegation had been visiting the facility to help build Afghanistan's security forces.
The Taliban says insider attacks reflect their ability to infiltrate the enemy. International military coalition officials say the incidents often arise over misunderstandings or altercations between troops.
In 2012, dozens of incidents forced international troops to take measures to reduce interaction with their Afghan partners. Since then, the number of insider attacks has fallen sharply.
Like other western nations, the United States is planning to leave a residual force in Afghanistan after the NATO mission ends this year, in part to support Afghan forces. But U.S. officials say that first they must sign a bilateral troop deal, which cannot be finalized until Afghanistan resolves an election dispute and confirms its new president.
In a similar attack on Tuesday, several people were wounded in eastern Paktia province when a policeman opened fire on international and Afghan forces, police chief Zalmay Oryakhil said.
Adding to the tension, a NATO air strike hit a vehicle carrying civilians in western Herat province, local officials said, killing four members of a family returning from a wedding, including two children.