A mayor of Utah was killed in Afghanistan during an "insider attack" while serving at the Utah National Guard in Kabul, the second deadly attack in a war-torn country in less than a month.
The Department of Defense said a member of the armed forces was killed by a member of the Afghan defense and security forces on Saturday and another was injured. Initial reports indicate that the attacker was killed by other Afghan forces.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox identified the dead servant as Brent Taylor, 39, a seven-year married father and mayor of North Ogden, Utah.
"I hate that. I'm fighting for words," Cox said in a Facebook post. "I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie, and his sweet seven kids, Utah crying for them today."
The Pentagon said the attack is under investigation and has not published any further details.
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Last month, an Afghan bodyguard opened fire between local leaders and the leading American commander in Afghanistan at a meeting in Kandahar province. Three high-ranking officials from the province were killed and three Americans were injured, although General Austin Miller was unhurt.
Taliban fighters recently resurrected in Afghanistan took responsibility for this attack. NATO and US forces have deployed more troops to support the Afghan forces fighting against the Taliban and remnants of the Islamic state that is active in the country. Taylor had said as part of this effort that he had been to Afghanistan to help train Afghan troops.
James Piazza, a Penn State University professor specializing in political violence in the Islamic world, reports there are reports of "severe demoralization" and desertion among Afghan troops.
"Attacks like this threaten to create a wedge between the US military and Afghan forces," Piazza told the United States today. "If US military personnel supporting Afghanistan to support and train Afghan forces can not trust their Afghan counterparts, it is hard to imagine that our support will be very effective."
Taylor was since Mayor of the 17,000 inhabitants of North Ogden. He also served for more than a decade as an officer of the National Guard, including seven years in active service. Previously, he had made two trips in the Iraq war and in Afghanistan.
In January, Taylor began another one-year tour of Afghanistan. The local police gave him a police escort the day he left, and hundreds of residents lined the street to pay homage, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. He watched on Skype as his youngest daughter learned to walk. In September, his wife "Rockstar" wished a happy 15th anniversary on Facebook.
Taylor, a Ph.D. student in international relations at the University of Utah, has frequently published wartime photographs in social media. He was consistently optimistic and even stated in an April post that "I absolutely love the American and Afghan soldiers I serve every day." The deployment of the Afghan soldiers is particularly inspiring. "
His most recent contribution, October 28, expressed admiration for millions of Afghans who had defied threats and attacks to vote in last month's parliamentary elections.
"If the US prepares to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone at home will exercise their valuable right to vote," he said. "And whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more than Americans who unite us, as we separate … God bless America."
Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called Taylor a "hero, a wonderful father and a dear friend". Utah Governor Gary Herbert said he "broke his heart" when he heard the news that a soldier from Utah had been killed.
Herbert planned a press conference for next Sunday to discuss the tragedy.
Cox called Taylor's death "devastating" and, regarding Taylor's election Facebook post, the residents of Utah asked the mayor to vote on Tuesday.
"This war has cost us back the best blood of a generation," Cox said. "Thank you for your sacrifice, my friend."
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