An American soldier blows on a lit candle at the US-led coalition base in Kabul on Monday. (AP)
Kabul, Dec. 24: A woman identified as a police officer shot and killed an American civilian adviser at police headquarters in Kabul today, Afghan police officials said, breaking a relative lull in the so-called insider killings that have strained the relationship between Americans and Afghans here.
A spokesman for the American-led Nato force in Afghanistan, Col Thomas W. Collins, confirmed that the attack had taken place but said that the victim’s name was being withheld according to military policy. He described the attacker as “a suspected member of the Afghan uniformed police” and said the suspect was in Afghan custody.
Insider attacks, in which members of the Afghan security services have turned against their foreign allies, have greatly increased in the past year, with 61 American and other coalition members killed, not including the episode today, compared with 35 deaths the previous year, according to Nato figures.
Today’s attack — the first insider attack known to be committed by a woman — came after a lull in insider shootings after the military instituted a series of precautions meant to reduce them. The most recent episode was on November 11, when a British soldier was killed in Helmand province.
A person at Kabul police headquarters, where the shooting occurred at about 10am, said the suspect, a woman named Nargis, was a uniformed police officer who was working in the interior ministry’s legal and gender equality department.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release information, said the attacker had used a pistol and had shot the adviser in the head at close range. The victim was identified only as an American employee of DynCorp, the largest American civilian contracting firm in Afghanistan.
He said the suspect had been arrested at the scene by Afghan police officers. Although the person did not specify a motive, he said that it was not related to terrorism and that the suspect had no known connections with insurgents.
American and Afghan officials have been struggling to figure out how large a factor Taliban infiltration or coercion has been in the increase in insider killings this year.
Although insurgent contact has been clear in some cases, many of the attacks have seemed to come out of personal animosity or outrage, attributed to culture clash or growing Afghan anger at what they see as an unwelcome occupation by the US and its allies.
In other violence today, a coalition member was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, and an Afghan Local Police commander killed five fellow officers at a checkpoint in Jowzjan province in the north.
Dur Mohammad, the commander at the checkpoint, shot and killed five officers under his command, according to Gen. Abdul Aziz Ghairat, the provincial police chief. He said the commander fled after the shooting. Gen. Ghairat did not offer a motive but said that Mohammad had connections with the Taliban in the area.