U.S. Military-trained Afghan Air Force officer opened fire on coalition forces at Kabul airport, killing eight American service members and a civilian employee, in the latest deadly attack by Afghan troops on their foreign allies.
WSJ — Shootings by Afghan soldiers and police, some of whom were Taliban infiltrators, are becoming a leading cause of death for American-led forces in Afghanistan. This month alone, there have been six attacks by uniformed Afghans inside military bases and facilities across the country.
This onslaught is part of the Taliban strategy to sow fear and distrust among U.S.-led forces and the fledgling Afghan army and police, and derail coalition plans to start handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan troops later this year. The U.S. and allies aim to complete this transition and withdraw most of their combat troops by the end of 2014.
“The perception that’s being created of a widespread internal threat is affecting the morale of the mission,” says Micah Zenko, a fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations. “And that’s what terrorists intend to do—create panic.” (Well, that’s what happens when you have to follow Obama’s Rules of Engagement that don’t allow soldiers to do their job and kill the enemy)
Wednesday morning’s shooting at the military side of the Kabul airport, where the coalition’s Air Training Command—Afghanistan is based, was the deadliest single attack on international forces so far this year. In addition to the killing of nine Americans, five Afghan officers were also injured in the incident.
The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, but it was unclear whether the insurgents were involved. The air force officer who opened fire was about 48 years old and served for over 20 years in the Afghan military, said defense ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi. He opened fire after an argument with coalition trainers, according to Gen. Azimi.
Prior to this month’s spree of attacks, Col. Simons said, there were 16 incidents of international troops killed by their Afghan counterparts since 2009. Roughly one-third of the coalition fatalities in Aghanistan this month were caused by uniformed Afghans.