Czechs in US-led mission suffer more casualties in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan — A Czech soldier with the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan was killed and two others wounded in western Herat province on Monday, the Czech Defense Ministry said.
The soldier was the fourth from the Czech Republic to be killed in the war since the country agreed in June to raise its NATO contribution to 390 troops, up from 230.
Initial assessments indicated a member of Afghanistan’s security forces carried out an attack, the coalition said late on Monday, prompting speculation that an insurgent had infiltrated the forces.
Taliban insurgents quickly claimed responsibility. However, the New York Times, quoting unnamed Afghan officials, reported the shooting may have resulted from an argument at Herat’s Shindand base and had nothing to do with the Taliban.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed said Tuesday.
The attack targeted a Czech vehicle, the Czech Defense Ministry said. The three soldiers were provided first aid at the scene and evacuated to Bagram Air Field for further treatment. The injuries to the two wounded soldiers were not life threatening, a ministry statement said.
Czech Radio identified the dead soldier as Sgt. Tomas Prochazka, 42, and said his remains would be repatriated on Wednesday.
In August, a Taliban suicide bomber killed three Czech soldiers on a foot patrol near the Bagram base, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. Last week, five other Czechs were wounded when a suicide bomber struck an armored vehicle they were riding in near the base.
The Czech military says its units operate in Bagram, Herat, Kabul and Logar provinces.
Monday’s attack came just days after an Afghan bodyguard shot and injured the U.S. commander in southern Afghanistan, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley. Two senior Afghan leaders in the province were killed in the incident.
Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting where the attack occurred but was unharmed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility and indicated Miller and the slain Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq were the intended targets. However, Miller said he believed he was not likely one of the targets of the attack.
If the Taliban are proven to have been behind Monday’s shooting, it would be third apparent green-on-blue, or insider, attack to claim coalition lives this year.
NATO advisers have pushed Kabul to require screening of all Afghan military and national police personnel. The enhanced screening measures resulted in the removal of more than 400 Afghan commandos from the force as of May, according to a recent report to Congress.