WASHINGTON — The Afghan soldier who killed a U.S. general and wounded other top officers at a military academy near Kabul fired two to three bursts of gunfire from a bathroom before he was killed by Afghan forces, a Defense Department official said Wednesday.
The investigation into Tuesday's killing of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, the highest-ranked U.S. officer to be slain in combat since 1970 in the Vietnam War, has not yet determined a motive, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the investigation.
The shooting wounded about 15 people, including a German general and two Afghan generals. The attacker went by one name, Rafiqullah, an Afghan official told the Associated Press in Kabul.
He fired from the window of a first-floor bathroom, the Pentagon official said. Greene and the other troops were outside, attending a presentation at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University. It is unclear what type of weapon he used. There was no indication that Greene or any other person was targeted.
Greene, a 34-year U.S. Army veteran and two-star general, was the highest-ranked American officer killed in combat in the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. About half of the wounded in Tuesday's attack at Marshal Fahim National Defense University were Americans, several of them reported to be in serious condition.
Rafiqullah, in his early 20s, had joined the Afghan army more than two years ago and came from the country's eastern Paktia province, the Pentagon and Afghan officials said. On Tuesday, Rafiqullah had just returned from a patrol around the greater Camp Qargha, west of the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Rafiqullah' came from a district in Paktia province known to harbor fighters from the Haqqani network, which has strong links to the Taliban and conducts attacks against U.S. forces.
In a statement, NATO said Greene's body was being prepared Wednesday to be flown to the U.S. via Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj. Gen. Greene's family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured yesterday in the tragic events that took place in Kabul," NATO said. "These soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission."
The German Defense Ministry identified its wounded officer Wednesday as Brig. Gen. Michael Bartscher, saying he was in stable condition at Baghram airfield and that authorities were considering bringing him back home. Defense Ministry spokesman Uew Roth told journalists in Berlin that the German government condemned the "malicious and cowardly attack."
Camp Qargha is sometimes called "Sandhurst in the Sand"— referring to the famed British military academy — because British forces oversaw building the officer school and its training program.
The attack at underscored the tensions that persist as the U.S. and NATO troops' combat role winds down in Afghanistan — and it wasn't the only assault by an Afghan ally on coalition forces on Tuesday. In Paktia province, an Afghan police guard exchanged fire with NATO troops near the governor's office, provincial police said. The guard was killed in the gunfight.
A third "insider attack" happened late Tuesday in the Uruzgan provincial capital of Tirin Kot, where an Afghan police officer killed seven of his colleagues at a checkpoint, then stole their weapons and fled in a police car, provincial spokesman Doost Mohammad Nayab said.
A doctor at a local hospital told the AP it appeared the police officer drugged his colleagues before the shooting. The doctor spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to release the information. Nayab later denied that the police officers had been drugged and said the officer involved had Taliban connections, without elaborating.
Asked if the shooting was linked to the attack that killed the U.S. general, authorities in Uruzgan said they had no information about it.
So-called "insider attacks" in Afghanistan rose sharply in 2012, with more than 60 coalition troops — mostly Americans — killed in 40-plus attacks that threatened to shatter all trust between Afghan and allied forces. U.S. commanders imposed a series of precautionary tactics and the number of such attacks declined sharply last year. In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks.
Such "insider attacks" are sometimes claimed by the Taliban insurgency as proof of their infiltration. Others are attributed to personal disputes or resentment by Afghans who have soured on the continued international presence in their country more than a dozen years after the fall of the Taliban's ultra-conservative Islamic regime.
Foreign aid workers, contractors, journalists and other civilians in Afghanistan are increasingly becoming targets of violence as the U.S.-led military coalition continues a withdrawal to be complete by the end of the year.
On Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid praised in a statement the Afghan soldier who killed Greene. He did not claim his group carried out the attack, although in the past the Taliban have encouraged such actions.
Meanwhile, violence continued elsewhere in Afghanistan as Taliban fighters attacked a police checkpoint in Paktia province. Police killed nine Taliban fighters and wounded 10, while four officers were wounded, police chief Zulmai Huryakhil said.