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Insider attack at Kabul base kills US major general, wounds 16 troops including senior Coalition officers

An Afghan soldier opened fire today on a gathering of Coalition officers and soldiers at a military training academy near Kabul, killing a US major general and wounding 16 more personnel, including a US brigadier general, a German general, five British troops, and at least one Afghan officer.

An American major general was reported to have been killed in the shooting today. The general's name was not released, but Coalition officials said an Afghan commander was also shot along with other Coalition and Afghan troops. About "a dozen" of the wounded are said to be Americans. A report also indicated that five British troops were among the injured.

The casualty count may rise, as a number of injuries were said to be serious because the attacker fired at close range. A Reuters report cited an American official as saying the attacker had used a light machinegun. A number of victims were evacuated by Coalition helicopters following the attack.

The attack took place at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City, the International Security Assistance Force noted in a press release. "This facility was incorrectly named Camp Qargha in a previous release," ISAF stated, while confirming one of its personnel was killed in the attack.

The Bundeswehr stated that the incident occurred just before 10 a.m. during a "key leader engagement" meeting at the training facility for Afghan troops, and that a German general had been injured but was "out of danger," Die Welt reported.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said the attack took place around 12 noon, and a local official told Pajhwok Afghan News that the clash, which was triggered by an argument, resulted in the killing of three Afghan troops as well as at least four Coalition troops. According to Ministry of Defence spokesman General Zahir Azimi, a terrorist in ANA uniform opened fire on Afghan and foreign forces and was killed by Afghan soldiers in return fire. Afghan sources told the BBC that the attacker had been recruited to the Afghan army three years ago.

Camp Qargha was the site of a previous green-on-blue, or insider attack, in late October 2013, in which two NATO troops were wounded and an Afghan soldier was killed. The incident occurred when a New Zealand trainer and his Australian guards were fired upon at a checkpoint as they left an Afghan base on their way back to a new British-Afghan military training facility in Qargha. The Coalition troops had tried to take a confiscated laptop from the attacker. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban have not claimed credit for today's attack, but did mention the incident in a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad.

"An Afghan soldiers [sic] turn his gun on the foreign trainers in police academy in Qargha area of Kabul city, killing four invaders and wounding some others," the Taliban statement says. "A high-ranking officer was among four foreign military trainers killing in the shooting."

Today's attack is the third reported green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan so far this year, and the sixth to have taken place in Kabul since January 2007, according to The Long War Journal's statistics.

The number of reported attacks on Coalition personnel in Afghanistan has dropped steeply since a high of 44 in 2012. Last year there were 13 such attacks. [For in-depth information, see LWJ special report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.] The decline in attacks is due to several factors, including the continuing drawdown of Coalition personnel, reduced partnering with Afghan forces, and the adoption of heightened security measures in interactions between Coalition and Afghan forces.

The Taliban have devoted significant efforts to stepping up attempts to kill NATO troops and foreigners by infiltrating the ranks of Afghan security forces. Mullah Omar said as much in a statement released on Aug. 16, 2012, when he claimed that the Taliban "cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year [2011]," and he urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the "Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration" department, "with branches ... now operational all over the country," to encourage defections.

[Source: By Bill Roggio and Lisa Lundquist with information by The New York Times, BBC, TOLONews, Agence France Presse, Reuters, Stars & Stripes, Die Welt, Pajhwok Afghan News, The Long War Journal, NJ, 05Aug14]

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