American killed in Afghan attack in Kabul

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An Afghan employed by the US government killed one American and wounded another in an attack on a CIA office in Kabul, officials said today.

The shooting on Sunday evening — the third high-profile attack in the past two weeks in the Afghan capital — is the latest in a growing number of attacks this year by Afghans working for international forces. Some assailants have turned out to be Taliban sleeper agents, while others have been motivated by private grievances.

Gunfire was first heard sometime after 8pm local time around the former Ariana Hotel, a building that ex-US intelligence officials said is the CIA station in Kabul. The spy agency occupied the heavily secured building just blocks from the Afghan presidential palace in late 2001 after the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.

The US Embassy said an Afghan employee of the complex shot dead an American citizen and wounded another before being killed. "The motivation for the attack is still under investigation," the embassy said in a statement.

Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall declined to comment on what the targeted annex was used for, citing security reasons. Sundwall said the Afghan employee was not authorized to carry a weapon, and it was not clear how the man was able to get a gun into the secured compound.

The embassy did not provide information on the US citizen killed in the attack, and said the American wounded in the shooting was taken to a military hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

It said the embassy has "resumed business operations."

The attack came less than two weeks after militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the US Embassy, Nato headquarters and other buildings in Kabul, killing seven Afghans. No embassy or Nato staff members were hurt in the 20-hour assault, but it plunged US-Pakistan relations to new lows as US officials accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency of supporting insurgents in planning and executing the September 13 attack.

Sunday's assault also follows closely on last week's assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban. He was killed when an insurgent who had claimed to be a peace emissary exploded a bomb hidden in his turban upon meeting Rabbani.

President Hamid Karzai called Rabbani's death a "big loss" and said greater security measures should be taken to protect top Afghan figures, including religious clerics and tribal leaders. Intelligence officials have said one person has been arrested in connection with the assassination and that authorities were close to uncovering the details of the killing.

In the south, meanwhile, a Nato service member was killed in a bomb attack on Monday, making a total of 38 international troopers killed so far this month.