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NATO says 8 U.S. troops were armed when Afghan pilot killed them

The NATO statement raises more questions about how the Afghan pilot, who opened fire during a meeting in Kabul, managed to kill the Americans and a U.S. contractor. Meanwhile, the Defense Department identifies the eight slain servicemen.

April 30, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — Eight U.S. troops killed by an Afghan pilot earlier this week at a military compound at Kabul International Airport were all armed, according to a NATO statement released Friday, prompting more questions about how the pilot managed to kill them and a U.S. contractor and escape the room before dying of gunshot wounds.

NATO and Afghan officials were still investigating the Wednesday morning shooting in which a veteran pilot, identified by his brother as Ahmad Gul Sahebi, 48, opened fire on foreign trainers during a meeting.

Sahebi, who according to his brother faced financial problems, had an argument with a foreign official that day which prompted the shooting, Afghan officials said.

Although the pilot was severely wounded in the ensuing gunfight, he managed to flee the room where the attack took place, according to the NATO statement, and was later found dead in a separate section of the military compound.

Photos show a trail of blood where the gunman fled the room, according to the NATO statement.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for what it said was the latest attack by an insurgent infiltrator, but investigators found no immediate evidence of a Taliban connection.

"It appears that the gunman was acting alone," NATO officials said.

"Beyond that, no Taliban connection with the gunman has been discovered. However, the investigation is still ongoing, and we have not conclusively ruled out that possibility."

The eight troops were identified by the U.S. Department of Defense on Friday as Maj. Philip D. Ambard, 44, of Edmonds, Wash.; Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, 41, of Gadsden, Ala.; Maj. David L. Brodeur, 34, of Auburn, Mass.; Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, 33, of Deltona, Fla.; Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., 37, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40, of New Haven, Conn.; Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, 35, of Hockley, Texas; and Capt. Charles A. Ransom, 31, of Midlothian, Virginia.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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