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Central & South Asia

US general shot dead by Afghan soldier

Major General Harold J. Greene is the highest-ranking US Army officer to be killed in the Afghan war.

Last updated: 06 Aug 2014 06:37
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The deadly incident happened at Camp Qargha, a base west of the Afghan capital, Kabul [AFP]

A US general has been shot dead in Afghanistan, becoming the highest-ranking American officer to be killed since 9/11, in an insider attack that left more than a dozen wounded including a senior German officer.

The shooting on Tuesday, which killed Major General Harold J. Greene, rocked the US-led project to train up the Afghan army as NATO combat forces withdraw after 13 years of fighting the Taliban.

The assault is the first time a US general has been killed in a combat zone since the Vietnam War, and will do little to alleviate deep mistrust between international troops and their Afghan allies.

The Afghan soldier was himself killed after he opened fire during a high-level visit by NATO officers on Tuesday to the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, a sprawling training complex on the outskirts of the capital.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Major General Harold J. Greene's family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured today in the tragic events," said US army chief General Ray Odierno.

Another 15 people, roughly half of them Americans, were wounded. Among the wounded were a German brigadier general, two Afghan generals and an Afghan officer, whose rank the Afghan Defence Ministry did not provide.

The attack occurred during a site visit to the university by coalition members.

Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, said a "terrorist in an army uniform" opened fire on both local and international troops.

President Hamid Karzai condemned Tuesday's attack as a "cowardly" strike against Afghan and NATO officers.

"It is the work of those enemies who do not want to see Afghanistan have its own strong institutions," he said.

The Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack, and Western officials say that most such attacks stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than insurgent plots.

'Insider attacks'

The Qargha shooting comes as so-called "insider attacks" - incidents in which Afghan security turn on their NATO partners - largely dropped last year. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks. In 2012, such attacks killed 53 coalition troops in 38 separate attacks.

The shooting was not the only assault by an Afghan ally on coalition forces on Tuesday.

In eastern Paktia province, an Afghan police guard exchanged fire with NATO troops near the governor's office, provincial police said. The guard was killed in the gunfight.

It was not clear if the two incidents were linked, and police said they were investigating.

Also on Tuesday, Afghan officials accused an ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) air strike of killing four civilians in the western province of Herat.

"After rockets were fired at Shindand airbase, an aircraft carried out strikes on the area where they were launched," Herat's deputy governor Asiludin Jami told AFP.

"A man, a woman, a kid and a teenager were killed. They were all civilians." ISAF said it took all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and was assessing the facts surrounding Monday's incident.

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