Female Afghan officer kills U.S. civilian
Victim reportedly shot in head at close range.
KABUL, AfgHANiSTAN — A female police sergeant shot and killed a U.S. civilian adviser at police headquarters in Kabul on Monday, Afghan police officials said, breaking a relative lull in the so-called insider killings that have strained the relationship between Americans and Afghans here.
The American victim was identified as Joseph Griffin, 49, of Mansfield, Ga., who had worked for DynCorp International as a police trainer since July 2011, according to a DynCorp spokeswoman.
Afghan officials identified the shooting suspect as a woman named Nargis, a 33-year-old sergeant in the national police force who worked in the Interior Ministry’s legal and gender equality
department, and whose husband is also a member of the police force.
A person at Kabul police headquarters, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information, said the attacker had shot the U.S. adviser in the head at close range with a pistol and then was immediately arrested by other Afghan police officers.
The person added that both U.S. and Afghan officials were questioning her, and he described her condition as being distraught.
Police said they did not believe the attack was related to terrorism and that the suspect had no known connections with insurgents.
The Afghan news station TOLO cited Afghan officials as saying that the woman, who had crossed multiple police checkpoints before she fired her gun, had graduated from the national police academy in 2008, in one of its first female classes.
The effort to recruit and train female police officers has been fraught with difficulty. EUPOL, the European police organization active in police training here, said there are only 380 female police officers in Kabul, and even fewer in the provinces, despite a goal by the Interior Ministry of recruiting 5,000 by the end of 2014.
Insider attacks, in which members of the Afghan security services have turned against their foreign allies, have greatly increased in the past year, with 61 U.S. and other coalition members killed, not including the episode Monday, compared with 35 deaths the previous year, according to NATO figures.
Monday’s attack — the first insider attack known to be committed by a woman — came after a lull in insider shootings after the military instituted a series of precautions meant to reduce them.
The most recent episode was on Nov. 11, when a British soldier was killed in Helmand province.
U.S. and Afghan officials have been struggling to figure out how large a factor Taliban infiltration or coercion has been in such attacks.
Although insurgent contact has been clear in some cases, many of the attacks have seemed to come out of personal animosity or outrage, attributed to culture clash or growing Afghan anger at what they see as an unwelcome occupation by the United States and its allies.
“The loss of any team member is tragic, but to have this happen over the holidays makes it seem all the more unfair,” Steven Gaffney, the chairman of DynCorp, said in a statement.
The company also released a statement attributed to the victim’s wife, Rennae Griffin.
“My husband was a thoughtful, kind, generous and loving man who was selfless in all his actions and deeds,” it said.
In other violence Monday, a coalition member was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, and an Afghan Local Police commander killed five fellow officers at a checkpoint in Jowzjan province in the north.
Dur Mohammad, the commander at the checkpoint, shot and killed five officers under his command, according to Gen. Abdul Aziz Ghairat, the provincial police chief. He said the commander fled after the shooting. Ghairat did not offer a motive but said Mohammad had connections with the Taliban in the area.
The Afghan Local Police program, which seeks to bring armed elements — including some former insurgents — into government service, has drawn criticism because of a series of episodes in which the armed elements have switched allegiances, sometimes repeatedly.