Report: Two Americans among six killed by Kandahar suicide ‘insider’
A member of the Afghan intelligence service detonated a suicide vest Saturday, killing two Americans and four Afghan intelligence agency colleagues, The New York Times reported late Monday.
The Saturday morning attack occurred when a delegation including American coalition members and several members of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security arrived to deliver furniture to the intelligence office in the Maruf district, a remote area of Kandahar province, local Afghan officials told The Times.
The attacker, wearing a suicide vest under his intelligence service uniform, detonated his bomb shortly after the delegation arrived, killing a former American military officer and an American soldier, the paper reported.
But Shafiqullah Tahiri, spokesman for the intelligence agency, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the attacker had worn an Afghan uniform to gain access to the building in Kandahar.
“The suicide bomber was never on the staff of the [intelligence service],” he said. “Unfortunately, the local media reported this. It created concern among the people of Afghanistan.”
The former officer was Dario Lorenzetti, a Fort Worth native, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday, describing him as a West Point graduate who had been working for the State Department in Afghanistan for 18 months.
The active-duty soldier, according to a report in the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, was Army Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, 24, of St. Petersburg, Fla.
A Department of Defense news release said Gordon was assigned to the 572 Military Intelligence Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The DOD news release only described her as being killed when “enemy forces attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.”
The Tampa Bay Times said that Rep. C.W. Bill Young told the paper that military officials had told him a suicide bomber carried out the attack.
“It is not one that was planted as a mine. The person was wearing a suicide vest. This is also considered an IED,” said Young, who chairs the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.
Gordon joined the military in 2010, and was on her first deployment, the Tampa paper reported.
The bombing also killed Ghulam Rasool, the deputy intelligence director for Kandahar province, two of his bodyguards and another Afghan intelligence employee, according to The New York Times.
Insider attacks have become more common, and have caused more than 50 — about 15 — percent of the deaths of coalition troops this year.
This insider attack was the first this year by an intelligence service employee, possibly a guard, to result in the death of international servicemembers, Maj. Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the international joint command, told The New York Times.
The intelligence service, known in Afghanistan as the NDS, is thought to vet its employees more thoroughly than do the Afghan Army and the police, which have far more employees, the NYT noted.
The target appears to have been the Afghan agents, Afghan and international officials are reported as saying.
Haji Malim Toorylai, the Maruf district chief, told The Times: “The man believed he was attacking the NDS delegation; he probably was not aware of the foreign soldiers coming with them.”
An official of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force gave a similar assessment. “It was an NDS attack on NDS, and we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the official told the Times.
Maruf, the easternmost district in Kandahar Province, is sandwiched between Pakistan’s ungoverned tribal areas and Afghanistan’s Zabul province, a rural desert area where the Taliban have a strong presence.
Young became a critic of the nation’s war in Afghanistan last month after he received a letter from Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton of Largo, who told him of the carnage caused by IEDs, the Tampa paper reported. Sitton was later killed by one.
“Things have gone wrong in Afghanistan,” Young told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday night. “Something has to change. Too many people are ignoring that fact, and suggesting that it’s not that bad. But it is that bad.”