KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan employed by the U.S. government killed one American and wounded another in an attack on a CIA office in Kabul, officials said Monday, in the latest high-profile attack in the Afghan capital.
The shooting Sunday evening is also the most recent in a growing number of attacks this year by Afghans working for international forces. Some assailants have turned out to be Taliban sleeper agents, while others have been motivated by personal grievances.
Gunfire was first heard sometime after 8 p.m. local time around the former Ariana Hotel, a building that ex-U.S. intelligence officials said is the CIA station in Kabul. The spy agency occupied the heavily secured building just blocks from the Afghan presidential palace in late 2001 after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.
The U.S. Embassy said an Afghan employee of the complex shot dead an American citizen and wounded another before being killed. “The motivation for the attack is still under investigation,” the embassy said in a statement.
Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall declined to comment on what the targeted annex was used for, citing security reasons. Sundwall said the Afghan employee was not authorized to carry a weapon, and it was not clear how the man was able to get a gun into the secured compound.
The embassy did not provide information on the U.S. citizen killed in the attack, and said the American wounded in the shooting was taken to a military hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. It said the embassy has “resumed business operations.”
The attack came less than two weeks after militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and other buildings in Kabul, killing seven Afghans. No embassy or NATO staff members were hurt in the 20-hour assault, but it plunged U.S.-Pakistan relations to new lows as U.S. officials accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency of supporting insurgents in planning and executing the Sept. 13 attack.
Sunday’s assault also follows closely on last week’s assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban. He was killed when an insurgent who had claimed to be a peace emissary exploded a bomb hidden in his turban upon meeting Rabbani.
President Hamid Karzai called Rabbani’s death a “big loss” and said greater security measures should be taken to protect top Afghan figures, including religious clerics and tribal leaders. Intelligence officials have said one person has been arrested in connection with the assassination and that authorities were close to uncovering the details of the killing.
NATO bases and embassies have ramped up security following a number of attacks over the past year by Afghan security forces against their counterparts. Since March 2009, the coalition has recorded at least 20 incidents where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them killed coalition forces. Thirty-six coalition troops have died. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces were killed.
In December 2009, an al-Qaida double agent blew himself up at a CIA base in eastern Khost province, killing seven CIA employees. The attacker, a Jordanian man named Humam al-Balawi, had been brought into the base because he had claimed to be able to reach high-level al-Qaida leaders.
In the south, meanwhile, a NATO service member was killed in a bomb attack Monday, making a total of 38 international troopers killed so far this month.