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American Civilian In Afghanistan Killed In Ambush By Gunmen

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An Afghan man prays on the banks of the Kabul river on the fifth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on the outskirt of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 23, 2012. (AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul)
An Afghan man prays on the banks of the Kabul river on the fifth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on the outskirt of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 23, 2012. (AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Gunmen killed three people in an ambush on a van in northern Afghanistan, including an American electrical engineer who had lived in the country for decades, Afghan and U.S. authorities said Tuesday.

The U.S. Embassy could not provide further details about the slain American because of privacy laws, but three Afghan security officials said he had been working in Afghanistan for about 30 years.

The Afghan officials said two or three assailants attack the vehicle Monday in northern Parwan province. Two Afghans – the driver and one of the American's colleagues – were also killed in the attack, said Shirin Agha, the police chief in Parwan's Siahgerd district.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the killings.

Agha said the American had "a long beard and he was wearing an Afghan shalwar kameez so he looked like an Afghan," referring to the long shirt and loose-fitting pants that most Afghan men wear.

"The villagers said this man had long-time contacts in this district, doing his electrical work," he added.

According to Agha, residents said the American had been in Afghanistan for about 30 years. No other details about the man, or who he worked for, were available. Afghan security officials said he may have worked for a foreign aid agency, but did not know which one.

Although uncommon, there are a number of foreigners who have lived in Afghanistan for years, some even for decades.

It was unclear whether the American was the intended victim of the attack, or whether the van was specifically targeted by the attackers.

If the American was indeed the target, officials did not know how the gunmen knew he was in it. It is unsafe for foreigners to travel unescorted in most parts of Afghanistan and they are often targets for insurgent and criminal groups.

An official for the Afghan National Security Directorate, Nihmatullah, said one of the shooters was wearing a uniform of the Afghan Local Police, a village-level security organization. Like many Afghans, he goes by one name.

Mujahid said in a text message to The Associated Press that an Afghan policeman opened fire and killed three people, including the American.

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