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Three American private contractors working with the international coalition in Afghanistan and an Afghan national were fatally shot Thursday by an Afghan soldier on the military side of a Kabul airport, according to U.S. officials and a spokesman with the International Security Assistance Force.

An Afghan security official said the contractors were instructors who were shot dead by an Afghan security guard. U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News that the contractors were American and said the attacker was an Afghan soldier.

The shooting happened at close range in the Afghan air force hanger at Kabul’s international airport. The assailant was immediately shot dead, said the Afghan security official, who works on the civilian side of the airport.

ISAF spokesman U.S. Air Force Capt. Frank Hartnett confirmed the deaths but not the nationalities of the contractors. Hartnett did not provide further details about the incident, only saying that it was a shootout on the military side of the airport. Reuters reported that another contractor was injured in the attack.

The incident was under investigation. The identities of the victims and the private contracting firm they worked for are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Attacks on contractors have occurred before in Kabul: In November, a suicide car bomb detonated just outside a camp housing foreign contractors, killing two Afghan guards, Reuters reported. And one year ago, a car bomb killed two civilian contractors.


— Fazul Rahim, Jim Miklaszewski and Miranda Leitsinger