Afghan Man Arrested for 2012 Slaying of 2 US Officers

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, 48, of Baltimore. (U.S. Army)
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, 48, of Baltimore. (U.S. Army)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan officials this week arrested a man suspected of killing two American officers inside the Interior Ministry building four years ago during a period of deadly anti-American demonstrations.

The man, Abdul Saboor, has taken responsibility for the killings, an official said Tuesday. The attack occurred in February 2012 inside one of the most heavily guarded areas of the ministry.

"The suspect has admitted to his crime," Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Stars and Stripes.

The shooting deaths of the two American advisers came in the early days of deadly riots across the country over news that American soldiers had burned Qurans at Bagram Air Field. The slayings prompted NATO to temporarily withdraw all coalition advisers from Afghan ministries.

The victims were identified as Air Force Lt. Col. John D. Loftis of Paducah, Ky., and Maryland Army National Guard Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II of Baltimore.

Gen. John R. Allen, the NATO commander at the time, condemned the attacks. "The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered," he said.

The Taliban had claimed responsibility for the incident and said it was retaliation by one of their fighters for the Quran burning. News about the burning of the Muslim holy books at the Parwan Detention Facility came just weeks after video surfaced of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses.

The riots and reprisals that followed left dozens of Afghans and foreign troops dead or wounded.

The day after the officers were gunned down, the Interior Ministry identified a suspect believed to be an Interior Ministry employee, but he had fled.

The Kabul police had named Saboor as the attacker at the time and said he was a resident of Parwan province working at the intelligence directorate of the ministry. He was arrested Monday in Bamiyan province and was brought to Kabul, Sediqqi said.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

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