Conflict & Justice

Veteran Afghan pilot kills 8 Americans in Kabul (UPDATES)


An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier keeps watch at the gate of the Afghan air force compound in Kabul on April 27, 2011. A number of people were killed and injured on April 27 after a row between an Afghan air force officer and foreign troops at the air force headquarters next to Kabul airport, the defense ministry said.


Shah Marai

A veteran Afghan air force pilot opened fire on foreign forces Wednesday after an argument with a foreign colleague at the Kabul airport, killing eight Americans, including a civilian, according to NBC News.

The pilot was reportedly killed in return fire after the incident inside a facility used by the Afghan Air Force, in an office responsible for overseeing air traffic control, where the officer had been working, the Guardian reports.

Other reports put the death toll as nine and identified the victims only as members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) without giving nationalities.

The airport is home to the NATO Air Training Command.

Lt. Col. David Simons, a spokesman for the NATO training mission, said small arms fire was reported at the airport at about 10:25 a.m. local time. "A quick-reaction force responded to the incident," he said. "At this time there are reports of NATO casualties."

It was the latest in a spate of deadly incidents that have occurred inside government or military installations, a favorite target of Taliban insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the AP reported, but Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman had been a military pilot for 20 years.

According to the LA Times, reporters were not allowed into the air force compound, where Afghan troops guarded the doors and no NATO forces were visible.

An Afghan pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the gunman was Ahmad Gul, a 50-year-old pilot from Tarakhail district of Kabul province.

According to AP figures, since March 2009, the coalition has recorded 20 incidents where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36.