Uniformed Afghans kill two US soldiers
Published Friday, August 17, 2012
Two Afghan security personnel opened fire on Western colleagues Friday, killing two US soldiers and causing a number of other casualties in two separate attacks, the military said.
US concern is mounting of the unprecedented number of such "green-on-blue" attacks, which have now killed 39 NATO occupation troops in 29 such incidents so far this year, according to NATO figures.
Friday's attacks will further erode trust between foreign troops and the Afghans they work with, a week after six American troops were killed in a single day by their local colleagues.
The two Americans were killed in western Farah province, NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
"A member of the Afghan Local Police turned his weapon against two USFOR-A service members. The attacker was shot and killed."
Just hours later, ISAF confirmed that "a number" of foreign and Afghan soldiers were shot and wounded by an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Kandahar.
"The attacker was shot and later died of his wounds in the hospital," a spokesman said, without providing any further details. Local officials said two Americans and one Afghan soldier were wounded.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday he was "very concerned" about the attacks and the impact they are having on cooperation with Afghan allies.
The Taliban's reclusive supreme leader, Mullah Omar, has boasted that the attacks are the result of a deliberate plan by the Islamist militants to sow distrust between foreign and Afghan troops.
"Mujahideen (holy warriors) have cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year," Omar said in a message to mark the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
NATO says most of the incidents are motivated by cultural differences between troops and plays down the role of Taliban infiltration.
"What we identified was that most of them were caused by personal grievances and stress situations," the chief spokesman for ISAF, Brigadier General Gunter Katz, told AFP.
"We are confident that the morale (among international troops) is still good and those incidents will not affect our transition process," he said.
Panetta, however, admitted that he was "very concerned about these incidents... because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts".
NATO has about 130,000 soldiers occupying Afghanistan, but they are due to pull out in 2014 and are increasingly working with Afghans they are training to take over.
Panetta said General John Allen, who heads the US-led occupation in Afghanistan, was meeting Afghan security ministers and village elders to discuss further steps to protect against such attacks.
These measures include increasing the intelligence presence to get better information about potential attacks, he said.
NATO had already this year started a so-called guardian angel program in which one soldier watches the backs of others as they work with Afghan forces, but it has not prevented a spike in attacks.
Apart from the impact on the morale of foreign troops, the growing number of insider attacks will likely add to pressure in NATO nations for an exit as soon as possible from an increasingly unpopular war.