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Afghan pilot kills eight NATO troopers in Kabul airport


An Afghan Air Force pilot opened fire at troops from NATO-led force at Kabul’s airport Wednesday killing eight of them including an unnamed contractor, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

No further details were provided by ISAF pending results of the investigation but the shooting emerged as one of the deadliest incidents involving Afghans turning against foreign troops inside NATO installations.

“We can confirm an incident took place in the Afghan Air Force compound within the airport involving small-arms fire. We do not know what started the incident,” according to an ISAF spokesman.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Defense Ministry also issued a statement confirming that a shooting incident involving one of its pilots had killed several people and wounding others.

Wednesday’s shooting incident comes on the heels of a series of attacks by Afghan soldiers against their NATO-led mentors but authorities noted that some of the perpetrators could either be “rogue” soldiers or insurgents posing as uniform elements of Afghan forces.

Observes stressed the latest incident posed additional major challenge to the U.S. and NATO forces in light the scheduled gradual turnover of security roles starting in July and culminates with the complete withdrawal of foreign troops by end of 2014.

As both NATO and Afghan Defense Ministry withheld details of the airport shooting incident ahead of the investigation results, information reaching the Afghan media indicated that  a veteran Air Force pilot had opened fire on the ISAF troops.

But the Taliban, which had claimed responsibilities to a series of similar attacks targeting foreign forces issued a statement saying one of its fighters who was dressed in military uniform carried out the attack.

“(He) shot his weapon at many foreign and Afghan forces who were in a hangar, killing nine foreign troops and five Afghan soldiers,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Jon Mills

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