WASHINGTON (MCT) — An American major general was fatally gunned down by an Afghan soldier Tuesday at a Kabul military academy, becoming the highest-ranking combat death overseas for the U.S. military since the Vietnam War.
The general’s name has not been released by the Pentagon though his wife and children have been notified of his death.
The general and commanders from several allied countries were meeting at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul, the Afghan capital, when gunfire erupted around noon local time.
The shooter, a vetted long-time member of the Afghan army, reportedly used a PKM machine gun, a staple of the Soviet army, to spray the officers with bullets. Fifteen NATO soldiers were wounded, including a German brigadier general, according to both German and U.S. military officials. The shooter, who was in uniform, was killed by return fire.
Such shootings by supposedly friendly Afghan soldiers, which the U.S. military refers to as green-on-blue attacks, have plagued the U.S. effort to build up an Afghan army strong enough to defend against Taliban attacks once U.S. troops have withdrawn. Since January 2008, there have been roughly 80 such incidents, often by Taliban fighters who have infiltrated the Afghan security forces or disgruntled members of the Army and police. But there had been a several month lull in such attacks as U.S. troops ended participation in combat missions and imposed stricter security rules for meetings with Afghan counterparts.
There are currently 30,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 17,000 from other nations. The shooter was among the 335,000 Afghan national security forces.
The general’s death shocked and angered much of the U.S. military. At the Pentagon, the general’s death resurrected memories of Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the building, the only death of a general at the hands of enemy combatants that most current members of the military can remember.
–Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Washington Bureau
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