US officers killed in Afghan Interior Ministry

NATO recalls staff in Kabul ministries following shooting; Taliban claim responsibility for deadly attack.

Afghan Koran protest 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Afghan Koran protest 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said on Saturday he was recalling all staff working at ministries in the Afghan capital after two American officers were shot dead inside the Interior Ministry.
"For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul," Allen said in a statement.
Two Americans believed to be a US colonel and major were shot dead on Saturday, security sources said, while rage gripped the country for a fifth day over the burning of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base.
A spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed two of their servicemen had been shot dead in central Kabul by an individual who turned his weapon on them. She declined to say if the killer was a member of the Afghan military or police.
Afghanistan's Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the shootings, which it said were in retaliation for the desecration of the Korans at Bagram airfield.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an e-mailed statement to the media that four high-ranking Americans had been killed, though the Islamist group often exaggerate and inflate claims of casualties.
The Koran burnings underscored the deep cultural divide that still exists more than 10 years after US troops invaded to oust the Taliban and has deepened public mistrust of Western troops struggling to stabilize the country.
An Afghan security source said the shooting of the two Americans in the Interior Ministry could be connected to the burning of the Korans.