Two high-ranking U.S. military officers were killed today by an assailant inside of a high-security government building in Kabul. Their deaths come on the fifth day of widespread unrest triggered by the inadvertent burning of Qurans at a NATO military base.
The gunman entered the officers’ room at the Interior Ministry, which had a lock with a security code, and shot both officers in the head. The shooter escaped and is on the loose at this hour, according to NATO.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the shooting, although there still no physical evidence connecting the group to the incident.
Gen. John Allen, commander of the ISAF, responded to today’s violence by pulling all foreign advisers out of Afghan ministries. There are currently hundreds of advisers from 49 coalition countries assigned to various ministries.
“I condemn today’s attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today,” Allen said. “We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered.”
According to officials, the shooter walked into a room at the Interior Ministry and fired six to seven shots.
How the shooter gained access to such a secure part of the facility is still unknown.
Afghan and U.S. officials are currently reviewing CCTV security camera footage to try to identify the gunman. The nationality of the shooter has not yet been confirmed, but the ISAF directive recalling the foreign advisers indicated that he was Afghan.
“The assailant is unknown, and an aggressive search is under way to determine who is responsible,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.
Since Tuesday, Afghanistan has been torn by protests over the American military’s burning of religious texts, including Qurans. NATO is investigating the investigating the incident.
A public apology from President Barack Obama on Thursday has failed to calm the unrest.
More in the video below.
- Taliban claim killing of 2 U.S. officers at interior ministry (edition.cnn.com)
- 2 Americans killed in Afghan Interior Ministry (ctv.ca)
- NATO Staff Pulled From Afghanistan Following Attack (huffingtonpost.com)