News / Asia

Afghan Military Pilot Guns Down 8 NATO Troops

An Afghan soldier holds his rifle outside a gateway to Kabul's airport following a shooting incident in Kabul, Afghanistan,  April 27, 2011
An Afghan soldier holds his rifle outside a gateway to Kabul's airport following a shooting incident in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 27, 2011

Officials say an Afghan military pilot has opened fire on NATO troops in Kabul, killing eight coalition soldiers and an American contractor, in the deadliest such incident since the war began in 2001.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said the veteran pilot shot and killed coalition troops during an argument Wednesday inside an Afghan air force meeting room at the Kabul airport. The pilot was killed in subsequent gunfire.

Defense officials rejected a Taliban claim that the gunman was a militant wearing a military uniform.

NATO did not give the nationalities of those killed, but the Associated Press news agency quoted an unnamed U.S. defense official who said all of the victims were American. Five members of the Afghan security forces also were wounded.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and ordered an investigation.

Wednesday's incident was the latest in a series of attacks by members of Afghan security forces or someone wearing one of their uniforms.

Earlier this month, an Afghan border guard shot and killed two U.S. soldiers in northern Faryab province.  In February, a person wearing an Afghan army uniform killed three German soldiers and wounded six others in Baghlan province.

And last November, an Afghan border policeman killed six U.S. troops during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials say troops have recaptured 71 of the 488 inmates who used a 300-meter-long tunnel to escape from a prison in southern Kandahar province on Sunday.

Security has been tightened along Kandahar's border with Pakistan, and officials say biometric data on each prisoner will help identify and capture the remaining inmates, most of them Taliban militants.

But Interpol said Wednesday Afghan authorities have not been trained to take photographs and DNA of prisoners, or to share the information with international law enforcement.  The group said a lack of training is "an unacceptable gap in global security."

Afghanistan's Justice Minister Abibullah Ghalab said the jailbreak must have involved inside collaborators, but he added that Afghan and international forces should have detected the plot.

The Taliban claimed responsibility.  It said the prison break was five months in the making, with diggers starting the tunnel from under a nearby house.  

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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