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NATO soldier killed in insider attack

A Slovakian Army team leader provides security outside of an explosive cleaning area on Kandahar Air Field, July 7, 2012.

KABUL -- A coalition servicemember was killed by an Afghan soldier in the southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, the first so-called insider attack in weeks, military and government officials said.

The shooter opened fire at Kandahar Air Field, one of the busiest coalition bases in Afghanistan, and he was arrested after the killing, according to Jawed Faisal, spokesman for the Kandahar governor’s office. Afghan authorities are investigating the shooting.

The Associated Press reported that three Slovak troops were injured in the shooting, though a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would not comment on injuries.

Insider attacks are down from a year ago, when they reached crisis levels, but it was at this time in 2012 when attacks began to spike. More than 60 international troops were killed by their Afghan colleagues last year, accounting for about 15 percent of all coalition deaths over the course of the year. This year, eight coalition troops and two civilians have been killed in suspected insider attacks, according to an AP count.

Analysts say it is possible the attacks have abated due to counter-measures put in place by NATO and the Afghan security forces, or because the insurgents have switched tactics, preferring to use infiltrators to glean valuable intelligence on enemy plans rather than on pinprick attacks against coalition troops.

Tuesday’s attack appears to be the first such attack since June 8, when three Americans, including two soldiers, were killed by an Afghan soldier in Paktika province.

The attacks last year eroded trust between international troops and their Afghan counterparts at a crucial time when foreign militaries are pulling troops from the country and switching to an advisory role, leaving more of the day-to-day security responsibility for the country to Afghan forces. All international combat troops are scheduled to leave the country by the end of next year.

Far deadlier have been so-called green-on-green incidents, when turncoat Afghan soldiers aim their weapons at their comrades. On Friday, an Afghan policeman blew himself up in a military dining hall in Uruzgan province, killing 12 of his fellow troops.

The Taliban have vowed to continue to focus on infiltrating the ranks of the Afghan security forces during their summer military campaign.

druzin.heath@stripes.com
Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

 

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