2 Insider Attacks Kill 6 Coalition Members in Afghanistan - New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan Afghan security forces killed six service members from the American-led military coalition in a pair of attacks in southern Afghanistan this weekend, pushing the number of international troops killed by Afghan forces in a single year past 50 for the first time.
This years record-setting toll from what are known as insider or green-on-blue attacks green being American military parlance for indigenous forces, blue for its own has become one of the most visible signs of the challenges faced by the NATO coalition as it nears the end of its role in Afghanistans war.
The coalitions ambition to leave behind a stable Afghanistan that can fend off the Taliban hinges on readying the countrys army and police for the task. Yet the spread of insider attacks has left coalition forces increasingly mistrustful of the Afghan forces they are training and fighting alongside and, at the same time, offered a window tothe increasing resentment that many Afghans feel toward the massive foreign military presence here.
The second attack of the weekend, which took place Sunday in Zabul Province, was the deadlier of the two latest incidents, with four coalition service members killed. The coalition said in a terse statement that the attack was suspected to involve members of the Afghan police and was under investigation.
Michael Cole, a coalition spokesman, said the reason officials suspected Afghan police in the attack was because a policeman was killed in the firefight that ensued. But investigators were not yet certain whether the slain policeman was one of the attackers or was caught in the crossfire between coalition forces and the assailants, he said.
Afghan officials said they, too, were trying to determine what precisely happened.
Neither coalition nor Afghan officials offered the nationality of the troops killed, though most of the international forces in Zabul are American.
A day earlier, two British soldiers were killed in Helmand Province. The coalition said the attacker was a member of the Afghan Local Police, a village militia force that was created and is largely being trained by allied Special Forces to augment the Afghan army and police.
International troops at the scene quickly opened fire on the attacker, killing him, the coalition said.
Britains Defense Ministry later said both of the dead soldiers were British, and that they were killed at a local police checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand.
The six deaths brought to 51 the number of coalition service members killed this year in insider attacks. The toll has already well exceeded last years total of 35 killed in such violence.
It also represents a marked increase from just a few years ago, when such attacks were often described by the coalition as one-offs and not part of a larger pattern or problem. In 2007 and 2008, for instance, a total of four coalition service members were killed by Afghan forces.
But the number of attacks in the recent years has recently prompted coalition and Afghan officials to step up their vetting of Afghan recruits and increase the internal monitoring of forces in the field.
Coalition officials say the attacks are often driven by personal animosity, although at least a quarter are believed to be the result of Taliban infiltration or influence over soldiers and police.