Utah Mayor Brent Taylor Is Killed in Afghan Attack

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Utah mayor serving in Afghanistan was reportedly killed and another service member was wounded when an Afghan commando opened fire on them on Saturday in Kabul.

Maj. Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden, Utah, was killed, according to the state’s lieutenant governor, Spencer J. Cox, who expressed shock in announcements on Twitter and Facebook.

“I hate this. I’m struggling for words,” Mr. Cox wrote. “I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his 7 sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today.”

I hate this. I’m struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his 7 sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family. Thank you for your sacrifice my friend. ??? https://t.co/uS9emZgv7s

Major Taylor had taken leave from his position in North Ogden, a city of about 20,000 people, to serve with the Utah National Guard in Afghanistan. “Service is really what leadership is all about,” he wrote on Facebook in January before what was to be a year’s deployment.

He said the assignment, his fourth deployment, was as part of an advisory team training an Afghan commando battalion.

Debra Richardson, a NATO spokeswoman, said in Kabul, the capital, that the gunman appeared to have been a member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

“The attacker was immediately killed by other Afghan forces,” she said.

NATO had not released the identities or ranks of the service members, or the location of the attack. But United States officials suggested it had occurred at an American special operations forces hub in Kabul that is used as a staging base for missions around the capital and in neighboring provinces.

The attack was the second of its kind in less than two weeks. On Oct. 22, an Afghan commando opened fire on members of the American-led NATO coalition in the western province of Herat, killing one and wounding two.

So-called insider attacks have long been a problem for coalition forces in Afghanistan. At their peak in 2012, 61 coalition soldiers were killed by such attacks.

Major Taylor decided to join the military someday after the Sept. 11 attacks while attending Brigham Young University, according to a profile published in January in The Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper. His five brothers also joined the Army in the years after the 2001 attacks, it said.

His wife, Jennie Taylor, said in the article that service was an important part of their lives, and an example for their seven children. “I hope they know that in our family, we help,” she said. “In our family, we do what we can. If it’s something we can do, and the call comes to serve, we say yes.”

Major Taylor urged others to action as well, saying on Facebook in January that whether “reading to children at a school, or simply helping a neighbor, there are ways all around us to brighten someone’s day.”

Last Sunday in what appeared to be his last Facebook post, he called on all Americans to vote. “Whether the Republicans or the Democrats win,” he said, it is important “that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us.”

Accolades poured out for Major Taylor late Saturday across social media.

“He was the best of men with the ability to see potential and possibility in everything around him,” North Ogden’s website said in announcing his death. It added, “He was patriotic to the core and a shining example of what an American politician should be.”

Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential candidate who is now running for the Senate in Utah, said on Twitter that he was “heartbroken” over the news.

The latest attack came as the American military has retreated to a more cautious position following a widespread rumor about the killing of the powerful police chief of Kandahar Province, which has created mistrust with Afghan allies.

On Oct. 18, the chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, was shot dead by a teenage Taliban infiltrator as he was walking out of a meeting with the top American and NATO commander, Gen. Austin S. Miller.

General Miller, who was standing steps away, survived a second round fired in the direction of the other dignitaries.

As detailed in a New York Times report, a guard at the scene, who United States officials said they believed could have been a second infiltrator, shouted that the Americans had shot the Afghan general.

It led to tensions with Afghan forces that cast a cloud over the relationship. Afghan and American forces clashed as the American convoy was leaving the compound, with United States forces shooting one Afghan guard dead.

The American military has struggled to contain the disinformation, and senior Afghan officials have tried to quash the rumor.

The concern peaked after an Afghan commando opened fire on coalition forces on Oct. 22 in the west of the country following what Afghan officials said had been a verbal clash over the killing of General Raziq.

Mujib Mashal contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Washington.

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