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Kabul Airport Shooting Leaves Nine Americans DeadTim King Salem-News.com
Afghan military pilot is said to have opened fire; was also killed.
(KABUL / SALEM) - Nine Americans were killed at the Kabul Airport Wednesday, by an Afghan air force pilot; 50-year old Ahmad Gul, who is said to have gone on a shooting spree after arguing with NATO officials.
He reportedly opened fire, killing eight U.S. servicemen, and also a civilian contractor. None were wearing their protective body armor at the time of the shooting.
It is likely they felt no need, as security is very tight at the Kabul Airport which serves anyone flying in and out of Afghanistan's capitol city, and also functions as a highly secure military air facility.
Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman, Ahmad Gul of the Tarakhail district in Kabul province, was an officer who had served as a pilot in the Afghan military for the past 20 years. He did die in the exchange of fire that followed his initial attack, according a reports.
The Taliban took credit for the shootings.
In a statement posted on the Taliban website, spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the assailant died "when he ran out of bullets."
However, the brother of the gunman, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Sahibi, quickly stepped forward and said Ahmad Gul was not associated with the Taliban or other anti-Coalition militias.
His said his brother, "was under economic pressures and recently he sold his house. He was not in a normal frame of mind because of these pressures", according to Dr. Sahibi, who added that his brother was, "going through a very difficult period of time in his life."
He said his brother's distress over his personal finances... was behind his having opened fire at Kabul's international airport Wednesday, killing Americans who are known as 'mentors' in the relationship between U.S. trainers and Afghan pilots.
I caught up with two of the mentors four years ago while covering the war here. Optimistic at the time, they talked about the advances the Afghan air force was having with training at the Kabul Military Training Center, known as KMTC.
In 2007, the Afghanistan National Army's air force was still in the early phases of getting their own pilots, men like Ahmad Gul, who served under the Communist government of Afghanistan, back into the air. Watch the video report for more details on the Afghanistan air operations and training at the Kabul Military Training Center.
The Kabul airport gunbattle that left nine Americans dead lead to many other injuries; while no Afghan military personnel beyond Gul were killed in the incident, many were injured and several are said to have leaped out of building windows in order to escape the deadly carnage.
This is the worst single U.S. loss since a Taliban rocket shot an American helicopter down over Kunar province; that happened in June 2005, killing 16 U.S. soldiers.
The gunman's brother told a Kabul television station that Ahmad Gul, "served his country for years."
Not much of a reprieve for the loved ones of nine American families, nor is it a sign of anything improving in this war that has grown increasingly unpopular and dangerous.
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