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Afghan pilot kills NATO trainers

An Afghan army pilot opened fire on his foreign trainers at a Kabul airbase, killing several NATO troops and a civilian. The shooting is the latest in a string of attacks by militants wearing Afghan army uniforms.

Soldier in front of Kabul airport

Guards and barriers have been unable to prevent attacks at military sites

Eight NATO troops and a civilian contractor have been killed in a shooting involving an Afghan army pilot at a Kabul airbase.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said the shooting began after an argument between the attacker and foreign personnel at the airbase, which is adjacent to Kabul's international airport. Army spokesman General Zahir Azimi said the attacker was also killed in the exchange of fire.

In a statement sent to the media, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid took responsibility for the attack. He claimed the attacker had used an Afghan army uniform to gain access to the military airport. He said nine NATO troops and five Afghan soldiers were killed in the suicide attack.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed the deaths of eight troops and the contractor in a statement, but gave no further details on the incident. Al Jazeera's English-language news service, however, quoted a source as saying six of the dead were US soldiers.

"Rogue" soldiers

Afghan soldier with gun

Afghan army uniforms have been easy to procure for militants

The shooting is the latest in a series of attacks carried out by "rogue" Afghan soldiers or by uniformed insurgents who have managed to infiltrate the Afghan army.

On April 16, a suicide bomber dressed as an army soldier killed five ISAF personnel, four Afghan troops and an interpreter in eastern Laghman province.

Afghan and NATO officials say recruits are now being more tightly vetted, and all shops selling security forces uniforms have been closed.

Germany 'alarmed'

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Wednesday called the shooting "alarming, because you don't protect yourself against friends, you rely on them."

De Maiziere called for "serious discussions" with the Afghan government and said there could be "consequences."

"This is an extremely serious incident," the minister said on the sidelines of a visit to New York, adding that the shooting "fits in with a number of comparable incidents where Afghan security forces or Taliban wearing their uniforms fire on soldiers that are training and supporting."

The attack highlights the challenges facing US and NATO troops as they prepare for a gradual handover of security responsibilities scheduled to begin in July.

Author: Timothy Jones, David Levitz (AFP, Reuters, DPA)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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