American killed at police HQ in Kabul, Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- A female police sergeant shot and killed a U.S. civilian adviser Monday at police headquarters in Kabul, 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 DynCorp spokeswoman Ashley Burke.

Afghan officials identified the 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 police force member.

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 she was immediately arrested by other Afghan police officers. The person added that both U.S. and Afghan officials were questioning her, and he said she was distraught. Police said they did not believe that the attack was related to terrorism and that the suspect had no known ties with insurgents.

The Afghan news station TOLO cited Afghan officials as saying 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, says there are only 380 female police officers in Kabul, and even fewer in the provinces, despite an Interior Ministry goal of recruiting 5,000 by the end of 2014.

Insider attacks, in which Afghan security service members 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 Nov. 11, when a British soldier was killed in Helmand province.

U.S. and Afghan officials have been struggling to determine 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," DynCorp chairman Steven F. Gaffney 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, 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. Gen. Ghairat did not offer a motive, but said Cmdr. Mohammad had ties with the local Taliban.

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