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8 US Soldiers, Civilian Contractor, Killed by Afghani Pilot, 2 More Killed in Another Attack

April 27-28, 2011

9 Americans dead after Afghan officer opens fire

Military pilot opens fire at Kabul airport in deadliest episode to date of an Afghan turning against coalition partners

April 27, 2011


KABUL, Afghanistan -

Eight American troops and a U.S. contractor died Wednesday after an Afghan military pilot opened fire during a meeting at Kabul airport — the deadliest episode to date of an Afghan turning against his coalition partners, officials said.

The Afghan officer, who was a veteran military pilot, fired on the Americans after an argument, the Afghan Defense Ministry said.

All nine killed were American, according to a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public.

The shooting occurred in an operations room of the Afghan Air Corps at Kabul airport.

"Suddenly, in the middle of the meeting, shooting started," said Afghan Air Corps spokesman Col. Bahader, who uses only one name. "After the shooting started, we saw a number of Afghan army officers and soldiers running out of the building. Some were even throwing themselves out of the windows to get away."

Five Afghan soldiers were injured. At least one Afghan soldier was shot — in the wrist — but most of the soldiers suffered broken bones and cuts, Bahader said.

An Afghan pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the gunman as Ahmad Gul from Tarakhail district of Kabul province.

Dr. Mohammad Hassan Sahibi, the brother of the shooter, who was killed in the incident, had been battling financial troubles. Sahibi said his brother had no ties to insurgents.

"He was 48 years old," Sahibi told Tolo, a private television station in Kabul, "He served his country for years. He loved his people and his country. He had no link with Taliban or al Qaeda.

"He was under economic pressures and recently he sold his house. He was going through a very difficult period of time in his life."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the shooting and offered his condolences to the relatives of the victims. He said those killed were trainers and advisers for the Afghan air force. The president ordered his defense and security officials to investigate the recent incidents to determine why they occurred.

It was the seventh time so far this year that members of the Afghan security forces, or insurgents impersonating them, have killed coalition soldiers or members of the Afghan security forces.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the gunman was impersonating an army officer and that others at the facility helped him gain access.

However, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman was an Afghan military pilot of 20 years.

"An argument happened between him and the foreigners and we have to investigate that," Azimi said.

Taliban insurgents have stepped up their attacks on government and military installations across Afghanistan.

On April 18, an insurgent managed to sneak past security at the heavily fortified Afghan Defense Ministry compound in the capital and killed two Afghan soldiers and an officer.

Two days before that, an Afghan soldier walked into a meeting of NATO trainers and Afghan troops at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan and detonated a vest of explosives hidden underneath his uniform. The blast, the worst before Wednesday's shooting, killed six American troops, four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter.

On April, 15, a suicide bomber dressed as a policeman blew himself up inside the Kandahar police headquarters complex, killing the top law enforcement officer in the restive southern province.

In northwest Afghanistan, a man wearing an Afghan border police uniform shot and killed two American military personnel on April 4 in Faryab. The gunman was upset over the recent burning of the Quran at a Florida church, according to NATO intelligence officials.

In February, an Afghan soldier, who felt he had been personally offended by his German partners, shot and killed three German soldiers and wounded six others in the northern province of Baghlan.

In January, an Afghan solider killed an Italian soldier and wounded another in Badghis province. The two soldiers were cleaning their weapons at a combat outpost when an Afghan soldier approached them with an M16 rifle and asked to use their equipment to clean his gun. The Italians saw that the Afghan soldier's rifle was loaded and asked him to unload it, at which point the Afghan soldier shot the two Italians and escaped from the base.

Before the airport shooting, the coalition had recorded 20 incidents since March 2009 where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in these type of incidents.

According to information compiled by NATO, half of the 20 incidents involved the impersonation of an Afghan policeman or soldier. The cause of the other 10 incidents were attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons. NATO said that so far, there is no solid evidence — despite Taliban assertions — that any insurgent has joined the Afghan security forces for the sole purpose of conducting attacks on coalition or Afghan forces.

Local Pilot Killed In Afghanistan Shooting Rampage

April 28, 2011 5:45 PM


An Air Force pilot who graduated from Auburn High School was among the nine victims of a shooting rampage in Afghanistan Wednesday.

34-year-old Major David Brodeur was among the eight American troops and one civilian killed when a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire inside the Kabul airport.

WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports

Brodeur, who leaves behind a wife and two children, as well as parents and a brother and sister, had been stationed out of Alaska.

He and his colleagues were training and helping the new Afghan Air Force.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Karen Twomey reports

He graduated from Auburn High School in 1994 and had been in Afghanistan for three months.

“David was a wonderful and caring father, husband, son and brother who was committed to the service of his country,” Brodeur’s father Lawrence told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. “Words are inadequate to express how much we miss him.”

The shooter was allegedly upset about his personal finances. He opened fire after an argument during a meeting in the operations room of the Afghan Air Corps. He was killed and a number of Afghan troops were seriously injured.

Taliban forces have tried to take credit for the attack, but the gunman’s family says it’s not true. He had worked for the Afghan military for years and was just despondent over his personal life.

Man opens fire on Americans in Kabul; 9 dead

By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN April 28, 2011 6:04 a.m. EDT Man opens fire on Americans in Kabul STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) --

NEW: U.S. military official: A report says the shooting occurred in a meeting room

 NEW: Two additional NATO troops are killed in separate attacks

The nine slain at the air force compound were Americans, the Pentagon says The Taliban claims responsibility for the shooting

Eight U.S. service members and an American civilian contractor were killed Wednesday in a shooting at an Afghan air force compound in Kabul, officials said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said an Afghan military pilot opened fire on international troops, sparking a "gunfight." The Taliban, however, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had been working with the shooter for some time -- an assertion that NATO denied.

Also denying the Taliban claim was the brother of the pilot.

"My brother had no connections with the Taliban, and I deny any claims of his connection by the Taliban," Dr. Mohammad Hosain Sahebi told a local Afghan TV station in a telephone interview.

He said his brother, Ahmad Gull, 48, was in the Afghan Air Force for several years and was injured many times in plane crashes. The Afghan military, however, listed the pilot as being 50 years old.

"My brother had mental sickness as the result of the plane crashes in '80s and also he had economic problems, too," Sahebi told local television.

One witness, Jon Mohammad, a military pilot at Kabul Airport, told CNN that he jumped from a second floor window to the ground during the incident. He saw foreigners laying on the ground inside the first floor, he said.

"He was religious person, but I'm not sure if he had mental illness," Mohammad said of Gull, the pilot.

The shooting started at the Afghan national air force compound at North Kabul International Airport after an argument between the Afghan pilot and an international colleague, officials said. The NATO-led force said the Afghan military pilot opened fire on international trainers and a "gunfight" ensued.

"A 50-year-old man opened fire at armed U.S. military soldiers inside the airport after an argument between them turned serious," said Col. Baha Dur, chief of public relations for the Afghan National Army at Kabul military airport.

NATO said the confrontation took place at 10:25 a.m. at the airport, where a quick-reaction force responded to a "small arms fire incident." The airport is home to NATO Air Training Command Afghanistan.

An initial report indicates the attack occurred in a meeting room at the Afghan Air Force headquarters, a location operated and secured by Afghans, a U.S. military official told CNN. The NATO-led force is investigating, the official said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings "by an Afghan military pilot."

Zaher Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the killings upset Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and that "he shares the pain with the families of the victims."

Despite the account by international troops, a Taliban spokesman said a man named Azizullah was responsible.

"One suicide attacker ... managed to attack an Afghan military unit and has managed to kill many Afghan and international soldiers," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The Taliban said the man killed nine foreigners and five Afghans before being killed by the Afghan army.

"We had worked hard on this plan for a long time," Mujahid told CNN. "He was cooperating with us since long time and he was providing us information about military air operations for a long time."

NATO disputed the Taliban claim.

"We do not know why it started but there is no indication that a suicide bomber was involved and there are no reports that someone managed to get into the base to do this," the NATO-led force said in a statement.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for previous conflicts between NATO service members and members of the Afghan military. CNN could not independently verify the group's claims.

The Taliban said the man was once a pilot in an Afghan regime in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"Since the current Afghan air forces have no planes, he was just going to Kabul airport to show up and earn his salary for a long time," Mujahid told CNN.

The man "was holding the rank of colonel at the time and he had an AK-47 with him. After his bullets were finished, then he was shot to death by armed forces," Mujahid told CNN.

There was confusion about the death toll. The NATO-led force initially said six service members were killed. It raised that toll to nine but backed away temporarily before saying again that the shooting killed nine people -- eight international service members and a civilian contractor. The Pentagon confirmed that all were Americans.

Later Wednesday NATO announced that two additional service members were killed in attacks elsewhere in the country, bringing the day's total number of NATO casualties to at least 11.

Violence between Afghan forces and NATO troops is a matter of extreme concern for NATO officials, and it is growing in frequency.

There have been 36 NATO deaths in the past two years attributed to attacks by people perceived to be Afghan soldiers or police. Officials fear that the increasing frequency of the attacks could undermine trust between NATO troops and the Afghans they are working hard to prepare so they can eventually take over security in the country.

The Taliban's claim that the Afghan gunman was their recruit follows a now-familiar pattern of the insurgency stating that attacks are theirs, even though NATO later suggests the gunman was acting out of personal motivation.

Out of 16 incidents of Afghan forces shooting NATO personnel that NATO has investigated, eight have been determined to be motivated by combat stress on the part of the Afghan attacker. The other eight investigations are undetermined.

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