KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: A veteran Afghan military officer opened fire on foreign forces Wednesday after a dispute at the Kabul airport, killing several NATO troops, Afghan and coalition officials said.
It was the latest in a spate of deadly incidents that have occurred inside government or military installations, a favorite target of Taliban insurgents.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but Defense Ministry spokesperson Gen Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the gunman was an Afghan military pilot who "opened fire on foreigners after an argument."
The pilot was killed in the shooting, which occurred inside a facility used by the Afghan Air Force, Gen Azimi said.
NATO did not disclose the number or nationalities of the casualties pending notification of their families. The airport is home to the NATO Air Training Command.
Lt Col David Simons, a spokesperson for the NATO training mission, said small arms fire was reported at the airport at about 10.25 am local time.
"A quick-reaction force responded to the incident," he said. "At this time there are reports of NATO casualties."
Gen Azimi said the shooter was a military pilot of 20 years. "An argument happened between him and the foreigners and we have to investigate that."
An Afghan pilot who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the gunman was Ahmad Gul, a 50-year-old pilot from Tarakhail district of Kabul province.
In a statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the gunman was impersonating an army officer and that others at the facility helped him gain access. The gunman killed nine foreigners and five Afghan soldiers, he said. The Taliban often exaggerate the number of casualties caused by their attacks.
Since March 2009, the coalition has recorded 20 incidents where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them attacked coalition forces, killing a total of 36.
According to information compiled by NATO, half of the 20 incidents involved the impersonation of an Afghan policeman or soldier. The cause of the other 10 incidents were attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons. The officers insisted that so far, there is no solid information that an insurgent was directed to join the army for the purpose of conducting attacks.