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2-star US general killed in Afghan green-on-blue attack

Published time: August 05, 2014 14:08
Edited time: August 06, 2014 07:15

his handout photograph obtained August 5, 2014 courtesy of the US Army shows Major General Harold J. Greene, who was killed August 5, 2014 in an attack in Afghanistan -- the highest-ranking American fatality since the 9/11 attacks. (AFP/US Army)

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A gunman dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on allied troops, killing a US army two-star major general and wounding 15 coalition troops, including a German brigadier general and two Afghan generals.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed in a statement, that the incident involving local Afghan and ISAF troops occurred on Tuesday at The Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City, Afghanistan.

At this time, ISAF can confirm one ISAF service member was killed. This incident is under investigation,” the statement reads. “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification to the relevant national authorities,” it added.

The killed American officer has eventually been identified by the US military as Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, a 34-year veteran, who was the deputy commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan in Kabul.

Greene is the highest-ranking US officer to die in combat since the 1970 Vietnam War.

There was no indication that the American major general was specifically targeted, a US official told AP on condition of anonymity. A preliminary investigation suggests the Afghan gunman was inside a building and fired indiscriminately from a window at the people gathered outside.

NATO said in a statement that it was “in the process of assessing the situation.”

Gen. Mohammmad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Defense Ministry, said a "terrorist in an army uniform" opened fire on both local and international troops. Azimi said the shooter was killed and added that three Afghan army officers were wounded.

The wounded German brigadier general, identified by the media as Michael Bartscher, was “not in a life-threatening condition,” according to the German military.

The Taliban hailed the militant who carried out the shooting as a “hero,” but did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned Tuesday's attack as "an act by the enemies who don't want to see Afghanistan have strong institutions."

In a Tuesday statement, the US army's chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, expressed condolences to Greene's family and the families of those wounded.

"We remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan and will continue to work with our Afghan partners to ensure the safety and security of all coalition soldiers and civilians," Odierno said in a statement.

Tuesday’s incident comes three days after German troops officially changed their mission from ‘combat’ to ‘training and assisting Afghan security forces’. Germany currently has around 2,000 troops in the country, mainly based in the north.

As the United States and other international troops prepare to complete the withdrawal of their combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the US military and its coalition partners are increasingly shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

The so-called ‘green-on-blue’ attacks have eroded trust between international troops and their Afghan partners. Lately, the number of the attacks involving Afghan soldiers opening fire on NATO troops has reduced. In 2013, there were 16 deaths from 10 separate attacks. A year prior, 53 coalition troops were killed in 38 such attacks.

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