NATO soldier killed in ‘insider attack’

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iol pic wld afghan NATO troops

AFP

File photo - US troops from the 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 2-87, 3BCT under Afghanistan's International Security Assistance Force, and Afghan National Army soldiers leave Combat Outpost Kandalay.

Kabul - A soldier serving with the NATO force in Afghanistan was shot dead by a man in Afghan army uniform, the latest in a series of “insider” attacks, the alliance said Tuesday.

More than 60 troops from the force were killed in 2012 in a surge of insider attacks that have shaken relations between the alliance and Afghanistan as the US-led soldiers try to train up the local army and police to battle Taliban militants.

The attack on Monday came as US President Barack Obama prepares to host Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House later in the week for talks focused on the long-term security compact between the two countries.

“An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing one,” said ISAF, the NATO force, in a statement on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman added that the attacker was killed in the incident but that no further details were available.

An investigation has been launched and ISAF said it was alliance policy for the dead soldier's home nation to issue an identification.

Taliban militants often claim such insider attacks are planned strikes by its supporters, but ISAF and Afghan officials say that many are due to personal grudges.

The threat has become so serious that international soldiers working alongside Afghan security forces are often watched over by so-called “guardian angel” troops on duty to provide protection.

In one incident in November, an ISAF soldier fighting insurgents in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province was shot dead after a “verbal argument” at a joint camp.

Last month, a female police officer killed a US adviser in Kabul's police headquarters - the first insider attack by a woman.

Scores more Afghans have also been killed in insider attacks, with four policemen killed 10 days ago when a colleague let in attackers as officers slept at a post in the southern province of Uruzgan.

The policeman who aided the attack then fled with the Taliban militants.

There are presently around 100,000 US-led troops fighting alongside Afghan security forces against the Taliban-led insurgency that has been raging since a US-led invasion toppled the Islamist regime in late 2001.

NATO combat forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

President Karzai's relationship with Washington has been troubled in recent years and the issue of insider attacks could encourage the US to provide less long-term support for Afghanistan, raising the risk of civil war. - Sapa-AFP


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