Five American troops have been wounded in a so-called ‘green-on-blue’ attack in the area. An Afghan soldier has shot and wounded five US troops in eastern Afghanistan, just days after an Afghan policeman killed three British soldiers in the south.
It is the latest in a string of attacks by Afghans on the foreign forces who are training them. The regular shootings are undermining morale in the critical mission to bolster the Afghan police and army as foreign troops head home.
“We have confirmed that the individual who opened fire was an ANA [Afghan National Army] member,” said Martin Crighton, spokesman for the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan.
The attacker escaped after opening fire early on Tuesday evening at a base in Sayed Abad district of eastern Wardak province, according to Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He had no further details on the man’s age, name or background. Afghan and Nato officials are investigating the incident.
Twenty-six Nato soldiers have been killed in 19 such incidents this year, known as “green on blue” attacks by the military. Last year, 35 soldiers were killed in 21 attacks, Nato figures show.
The shootings have become such a commonplace threat that some foreign units are watched by armed “guardian angels” from their own ranks – virtually unheard of five years ago.
In 2007 and 2008 there were a combined total of four attacks and four deaths, according to Associated Press.
UK forces have been particularly badly hit this year; the latest attack on Sunday in Helmand province meant nearly a quarter of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan in 2012 have died at the hands of the Afghan police and army.
Even elite units have not proved immune to the problem. An Afghan commando shot dead a US special forces soldier earlier this year, and Sunday’s killer was from the Afghan National Civil Order Police, generally considered better trained, better disciplined and more prestigious than ordinary police.
Most attackers are killed, or flee their bases, like the soldier in Wardak, to blend into the local population or perhaps join the insurgents.
Sunday’s attacker was wounded, but survived and was captured by British troops, giving them and the Afghan government a rare chance to question a perpetrator of the attacks.
Afghan forces also suffer from regular attacks from inside their own ranks, dubbed “green on green”, although the government says it does not keep figures on such incidents.
The Taliban regularly claims responsibility for almost all such attacks, although some appear to be the work of sympathisers rather than infiltrators, or come about as a result of quarrels.
The Nato-led coalition argues that not all attacks are the work of the Taliban, and that “green on blue” killings are in part the result of personal disputes in an environment where most men are heavily armed.
Additional reporting by Mokhtar Amiri