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Georgia man identified as victim of suspected Afghan insider attack

December 24, 2012|By Alexandra Zavis and Hashmat Baktash
  • Afghan policemen stand guard outside of Kabul police headquarters, where an American advisor was killed Monday. An Afghan policewoman is suspected in the shooting.
Afghan policemen stand guard outside of Kabul police headquarters, where… (Musadeq Sadeq / Associated…)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A Georgia man working as a contractor to the NATO police mentoring program in Afghanistan was identified Monday as the victim of the latest suspected "green on blue" attack by an Afghan officer.

DynCorp International said the shooting victim was one of its employees, Joseph Griffin, 49, of Mansfield, Ga. A veteran of the U.S. military, he served in various U.S.-based law enforcement positions over the years as well as in support of the company's global training and mentoring programs, the statement said. In his most recent assignment, he was supporting the Afghan Ministry of Interior and National Police.

Griffin was allegedly shot and killed by an Afghan policewoman in the capital, Kabul, authorities said.

If confirmed as another insider killing, Monday’s attack would appear to be the first time that a woman serving in Afghanistan’s security forces has turned a gun against a member of the Western coalition.

The city’s deputy police chief, Mohammad Daoud Amin, identified the suspect as a three-year veteran of the force who serves in the gender rights department, but said it was not clear whether the shooting was intentional. The woman is in police custody and an investigation is underway, he said.

A statement from the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization force confirmed the incident, saying one of its contracted civilian employees died after being shot by “a woman wearing an Afghan police uniform.” 

A sharp increase this year in insider killings, also known as green-on-blue attacks, has eroded trust between Afghan and NATO forces as they try to contain the Taliban insurgency ahead of the withdrawal of most international troops by the end of 2014. 

Excluding Monday’s shooting, Afghan soldiers and police -- or insurgents wearing Afghan security force uniforms -- have killed at least 61 foreign troops and contractors this year, according to NATO figures. In 2011, 35 coalition members were killed in such attacks.

The number of insider killings appeared to subside when the International Security Assistance Force briefly suspended many joint operations and revised its procedures for dealing with Afghan security force members earlier this year. The last known attack occurred Nov. 11,  when a British soldier was killed in the southern province of Helmand.

Amin identified the suspect as a police sergeant and mother of four named Nargis. According to Kabul's governor, Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the woman shot the American advisor with a pistol outside a police headquarters shop inside a highly secured compound in the heart of Kabul. Earlier, she had apparently been asking for directions to the governor’s office, which is in the same compound, but was told the governor was out, Taqwa said.

Taqwa could not provide the reason for the shooting, saying he did not believe there was an argument between the woman and the advisor.

Steve Gaffney, chairman and chief executive of DynCorp International, said of Griffin: "Joe spent his career helping people all over the world, most recently working to help the Afghan people secure a better future. The loss of any team member is tragic but to have this happen over the holidays makes it seem all the more unfair. Our thoughts and prayers are with Joe’s family, loved ones and colleagues during this difficult time."

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Baktash is a Times special correspondent.

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