- Associated Press - Monday, September 26, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan working for the U.S. government killed a CIA contractor and wounded another American in an attack on the intelligence agency’s office in Kabul, officials said Monday, making it the latest in a series of high-profile attacks this month on U.S. targets.

The incident marked the most recent in a growing number of attacks this year by Afghans working with international forces in the country. Some assailants have turned out to be Taliban sleeper agents, while others have been motivated by personal grievances.

The assailant in Sunday evening’s shooting was killed, and it was not yet clear if he acted alone or if he belonged to an insurgent group.

A U.S. official in Washington said the Afghan attacker was providing security to the CIA office and that the American who died was working as a contractor for the CIA. The official requested anonymity because he was speaking about intelligence matters.

The CIA declined to comment.

Gunfire first was heard sometime after 8 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EDT) around the former Ariana Hotel, a building that ex-U.S. intelligence officials said is the CIA station in Kabul. The spy agency occupied the heavily secured building, which is just blocks away from the Afghan Presidential Palace, in late 2001 after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.

The U.S. Embassy acknowledged that an Afghan employee of the complex carried out the attack.

“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. Mr. 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 American who was killed, and it said the person wounded in the shooting was taken to a military hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. It said the embassy had “resumed business operations.”

The attack came less than two weeks after militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles at the U.S. 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 U.S.-Pakistan relations to new lows as U.S. officials accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency of supporting insurgents in planning and executing the Sept. 13 attack.

Nearly 80 American soldiers were wounded and two Afghan civilians were killed in a truck bombing targeting an American base in eastern Afghanistan on Sept. 10. American officials also blamed that attack on insurgents from the Haqqani network, who allegedly are supported by Pakistani intelligence. Senior Pakistani officials reject the allegations.

Sunday’s assault also followed 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 claiming to be a peace emissary detonated 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. A government spokesman said the man who brought the suicide bomber to Kabul has been arrested.

NATO bases and embassies have ramped up security following a number of attacks over the past year by Afghan security forces against their counterparts. Since March 2009, the coalition has recorded at least 20 incidents where a member of the Afghan security forces or someone wearing a uniform used by them killed coalition forces. Thirty-six coalition troops have died in the attacks. It is not known how many of the 282,000 members of the Afghan security forces were killed.

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