WASHINGTON – An American general officer was killed in an attack at an Afghan military base in Kabul on Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

That is the highest-ranking American officer to be killed in the war in Afghanistan.

The officer has not been identified since the family had not been fully notified yet. Officials, who asked not to be named, earlier identified him as an Army major general.

The assailant was someone dressed as an Afghan soldier, who was killed in the attack, according to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said. The incident occurred during "routine site visit" by coalition forces.

The shooting took place at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul.

President Obama has been briefed on the attack in Afghanistan, spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The shooting is "a painful reminder" of the sacrifices that Americans have made in Afghanistan, and they are still facing risks, Earnest said.

Earnest did not provide names or details of the shooting, saying an investigation is ongoing.

Insider attacks, in which Afghan soldiers shoot coalition partners, had increased a couple years ago, but recently had declined dramatically.

Insider attacks on U.S. and coalition troops by Afghans had increased since 2007 and had emerged as a serious threat by 2012. Attackers that year killed 62 coalition troops.

The top commander at the time, Marine Gen. John Allen, branded the attacks his top strategic threat. Allen instituted a number of changes to reduce the threat, including the use of "guardian angels," requiring troops to operate in pairs or groups and keep an eye out for potential attackers.

Coalition and Afghan officials also enhanced screening of police and army recruits, requiring, for instance, biometric screening and letters vouching for their loyalty by village and tribal elders. The threat has subsided in recent years, coinciding with the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

However, they still occur. In February, two Army special forces soldiers were killed by gunmen wearing Afghan uniforms.

Contributing: David Jackson

(Copyright © 2014 USA TODAY)

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