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Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera

Died October 29, 2011 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

41, of Abilene, Texas; assigned to Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; died Oct. 29 at FOB Julian, Kabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, Army Sgt. James M. Darrough and Army Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio.

17 killed in NATO convoy attack in Kabul

By Amir Shah and Deb Riechmann
The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into an armored NATO bus on Oct. 29 on a busy thoroughfare in Kabul, killing 17 people, including a dozen Americans, in the deadliest strike against the U.S.-led coalition in the Afghan capital since the war began.

The blast occurred on the same day that a man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed three Australian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter in the south — attacks that show the resiliency of the insurgency and are likely to raise new doubts about the unpopular 10-year-old war and the Western strategy of trying to talk peace with the Taliban.

A spokesman for the fundamentalist Islamic movement, which was ousted in the 2001 invasion for its affiliation with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the bomber had used 1,540 pounds (700 kilograms) of explosives.

The Taliban and related groups have staged more than a dozen major attacks in Kabul this year, including seven since June, in an apparent campaign to weaken confidence in the Afghan government as it prepares to take over its own security ahead of a 2014 deadline for the U.S. and other NATO countries to withdraw their troops or move them into support roles.

Underscoring the difficulties ahead, the brazen assault occurred just hours after top Afghan and Western officials met in the heart of Kabul to discuss the second phase of shifting security responsibilities to Afghan forces in all or part of 17 of the country’s 34 provinces. Afghans already have the lead in the Afghan capital.

Heavy black smoke poured from the burning wreckage of an armored personnel carrier, known as a Rhino, in Kabul after the bomber struck. The bus had been sandwiched in the middle of a convoy of mine-resistant military vehicles when it was hit along a four-lane highway often used by foreign military trainers in the southwestern part of Kabul.

The landmark Darulaman Palace, the bombed-out seat of former Afghan kings, was the backdrop to the chaotic scene: Shrapnel, twisted pieces of metal and charred human remains littered the street.

U.S. soldiers wept as they pulled bodies from the debris, said Noor Ahmad, a witness at the scene. One coalition soldier was choking inside the burned bus, he said.

“The bottom half of his body was burned,” Ahmad said.

NATO said five of its service members and eight civilian contractors working for the coalition died in the attack.

It was the deadliest single attack against the U.S.-led coalition across the country since the Taliban shot down a NATO helicopter on Aug. 6 in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 U.S. troops, most elite Navy SEALs, and eight Afghans.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior said four Afghans, including two children, also died in the attack. Eight other Afghans, including two children, were wounded, said Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.

Just a day earlier, the Pentagon issued a progress report saying that the number of enemy-initiated attacks in Afghanistan was trending downward. Since May 2011, the monthly number of these attacks has been lower than the same month in 2010, something not seen since 2007, it said.

However, the Pentagon also noted that the insurgency’s safe havens in Pakistan and the limited capacity of the Afghan government could jeopardize efforts to turn security gains on the battlefield, primarily in the south, into long-term stability in Afghanistan.

The attack broke a relative lull in the Afghan capital, which has experienced a number of attacks in recent years that are often blamed on the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida and Taliban-linked movement that operates out of Pakistan.

The most recent attack in Kabul was the Sept. 20 assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani by an insurgent who detonated a bomb hidden in his turban. The attacker was posing as a peace emissary coming to meet Rabbani, who was leading a government effort to broker peace with the Taliban.

That occurred about a week after teams of insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons struck at the U.S. Embassy, NATO headquarters and other buildings in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital, leaving seven Afghans dead.

Soldiers killed in NATO convoy blast identified

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Four U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide car bombing of a NATO convoy in Afghanistan on Oct. 29 have been identified.

Seventeen died in the assault in Kabul. A vehicle packed with explosives rammed into an armored coalition bus.

The Pentagon identified the dead soldiers as Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera of Abilene, Texas; Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman of Shelby N.C.; Sgt. James M. Darrough of Austin, Texas; and Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Cabrera, 41, was assigned to Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Newman, 26, was assigned to Medical Company A, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii.

Darrough, 38, was assigned to 101st Finance Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Eugenio, 29, was assigned to the 756th Transportation Company, 224th Sustainment Brigade, California Army National Guard, Van Nuys, Calif.

Flags lowered in memory of bomb victim

The Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has ordered that the United States and state flags be flown at half-staff in memory of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

O’Malley ordered the flags be lowered from sunrise to sunset Nov. 10 in memory of Army Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, 41, of Olney.

Cabrera died Oct. 29 in Kabul when the vehicle he was in was attacked.

He was assigned to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda.

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