Insider attack kills coalition soldier and two others

Insider attack kills coalition soldier and two others

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, wounded last week in a Taliban attack, shown during the ceremony where he took command of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command-South in June 2018 (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield/TAAC-South Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON — An insider attack in Afghanistan killed a coalition soldier and wounded two others Monday, just four days after a top U.S. general was wounded in another insider attack in another part of the country.

Monday’s attack occurred in Herat, in western Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesperson Col. Rob Manning said. He would not identify the nationality of the two wounded soldiers.

Initial reports said a member of the Afghan security forces committed the latest attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the strike.

Last week Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, who commands the Train, Advise, Assist and Command-South unit based in Kandahar, was one of three wounded in an insider attack when a member of the provincial Governor’s elite security team began shooting.

Killed in that attack were Kandahar’s top police general, strongman Abdul Raziq, and Kandahar’s intelligence chief, Abdul Momin. The governor, Zalmai Wessa, was shot but survived, the Pentagon said.

Initial reports said that three others were wounded: a U.S. civilian, a U.S. service personnel and a contractor working for the international coalition, according to the Pentagon.

The attack came while the group waited outside for the helicopter for Gen. Austin “Scott’ Miller, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He drew his handgun, though he did not fire and was not harmed in the crossfire, the Pentagon said.

The shooter, a member of the provincial Governor’s elite security team, dressed in uniform, was killed at the site, the Pentagon said.

Smiley arrived in Afghanistan the summer of 2018. His wounding was first reported by The Washington Post.

Miller told the Tolo News Agency on Friday he believes the attacker was specifically targeting the Afghan officials. “What happened in Kandahar was an attack on the security forces,” he said. “My assessment is that I was not the target. It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target.”

Smiley’s command in Afghanistan is predominately staffed by elements of the 40th Infantry Division, a unit of the California Army National Guard. Smiley previously commanded Guard units in California, the Pentagon said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and alleged that Miller and Raziq were the prime targets.

The attack prompted the Afghan government to postpone voting in Kandahar for parliamentary elections by a week. The elections were held Saturday across the rest of Afghanistan.

“We remain absolutely committed to an Afghan-led Afghan reconciliation,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters last week. “Right now, we’re going toward the election and we will continue to defend the Afghan people.”

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