An Afghan employee of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan opened fire Sunday evening in a CIA annex at the embassy, killing a U.S. citizen and wounding another, a U.S. government official said. Security personnel used a flash-bang round to stun the shooter and then killed him, the official said. The gunman shot indiscriminately, and he is not believed to have targeted the victim, who was working for the U.S. government, the official said.
One or two civilians suffered minor wounds as people went running for cover, the official said, speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information and the ongoing investigation. Investigators are looking into whether the shooter was a disgruntled employee or whether he was inspired by militants.
All Afghan employees go through a background security check and must pass through a metal detector each time they enter the embassy, the official said. “We have no information as to whether the individual was authorized to carry a weapon or if he seized a weapon,” the official said. (CNN)
Afghan troops guard the outer perimeter of the embassy, while embassy contractors and members of the U.S. military guard the inside.
The CIA building is several hundred yards from the embassy compound and has its own entrance and security, another U.S. official said. Embassy personnel usually travel in armoured cars for meetings in the CIA facility.
“It’s not possible to stop everything from happening. You can only limit it, make it highly unlikely,” said the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. “The job of soldiers and diplomats and spies is to be amongst the people, getting work done. You have to have some level of trust to get anything done. There is a calculated risk” for U.S. personnel working in countries like Afghanistan, the official said. (CNN)
Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall said the Afghan employee, a lone gunman, killed a U.S. citizen and wounded another. The wounded American was evacuated to a military hospital with non-life threatening injuries. “There was a shooting incident at an annex of the U.S. embassy in Kabul last night involving an Afghan employee who was killed. The motivation for the attack is still under investigation at this time,” Sundwall said. (Reuters)
Sundwall declined comment on whether the annex housed the CIA, but Kabul Police Chief Ayub Salangi said there had been an exchange of fire at the Ariana hotel, which he described as a CIA office. He declined further comment on what happened in an area where access is restricted even for Afghan forces.
The annex area is known as a place where embassy personnel both live and work, some in intelligence operations. A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on the attack.
Meanwhile, a source in the nearby Afghan presidential palace told the BBC: “After the explosion was heard, an Afghan National Army (ANA) vehicle was passing. CIA-employed guards opened fire on the vehicle, thinking it had attacked them.” The sources said that two ANA soldiers, one CIA guard and one presidential guard were injured.
Afghanistan has been the site of several high-profile attacks of late, including strikes at the NATO headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. Rabbani had been leading efforts for reconciliation talks. The latest shooting is not believed to be related to any other attacks in Kabul, the U.S. government official said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid could not immediately be reached for comment, but a senior Taliban commander reached by phone from Pakistan said the man had secretly joined the insurgents after a group of Taliban approached him to remind him “of his moral and religious duty as an Afghan.” “He used the enemy’s weapons against the enemy and that’s what we have been doing everywhere in Afghanistan,” said the Taliban commander, who is operating in Afghanistan and asked for anonymity for security reasons. “This place is at the heart of Kabul and we wanted to tell the Americans that we can chase them anywhere,” he added. (Reuters)
In December 2009, a Jordanian informant detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA base in Khost, Afghanistan, killing seven CIA employees and two others. A CIA review of the incident found that some people within the CIA and the Jordanian intelligence service were skeptical about the attacker’s reliability, but those concerns had not been passed on to officers on the base.