CIA officer killed in Afghanistan suicide bombing, sources say
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WASHINGTON -- A CIA officer was among those killed by a suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, sources familiar with the incident said, in the latest of a series of fatal insider attacks that have undermined American efforts to turn security over to Afghan forces. A NATO spokesman said the bomber was a member of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, or NDS. An NDS spokesman disputed that, telling the Associated Press that the attacker had worn an Afghan uniform to gain access to the building in Kandahar.
A U.S. official said the bomber had served on the Afghan police force for six years before moving to the NDS. He said officials believe the attack was a Taliban operation targeting NDS officers. The bomber was noticed acting suspiciously but detonated the device before anyone could shoot him.
The bomber blew himself up as Americans and Afghan officials were arriving to deliver new office furniture to the intelligence headquarters in Kandahar’s Maruf district, the AP reported. Two Americans and four Afghan intelligence agents were killed in the blast.
The Pentagon identified the U.S. military casualty as Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, 24, of St. Petersburg, Fla., assigned to the 572 Military Intelligence Company, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The second American killed was a CIA officer deployed in Afghanistan, sources familiar with the situation said. CIA staff was briefed on the bombing this week, said the sources, who would not be quoted discussing potentially classified information. The officer’s name and role was not disclosed. The CIA had no comment.
More than 50 U.S. and NATO troops have been killed this year by members of Afghan security forces, although Saturday’s incident apparently is the first reported insider attack by an Afghan intelligence officer. NDS officers are presumed to be well vetted.
In September 2011, an Afghan working for the U.S. government killed one CIA employee and wounded another American in an attack on a CIA office in Kabul, U.S. officials said at the time.
In 2009, an Al Qaeda double agent detonated a suicide vest as he got out of a car inside a CIA base in Khost province, killing seven CIA officers in the largest single-day loss for the spy agency since the U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut in 1983.
By tradition, slain CIA officers are recognized with a star carved in a marble wall in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. The wall has more than 100 stars, but not every CIA death is reported or immediately acknowledged.
-- Ken Dilanian