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Shooter in turncoat attack was Afghan police, officials confirm

February 21, 2012 |  3:39 am

REPORTING FROM KABUL -- It was the kind of Western military mission meant to help win the support of the Afghan people: delivering school supplies to a poor district of the Kandahar province.

Instead, the Western troops taking part in the patrol to the village of Rabat -- a mixture of Americans and Albanians -- came under fire from an Afghan policeman. At least one of the Albanian soldiers died in Monday’s attack and a second was wounded, along with another member of the Western contingent whose nationality was not disclosed.

Officials in Kandahar province said Tuesday that the assailant was in custody, along with five other police officers. Gul Mohammad, the police chief in Spin Boldak, where the village is located, said an argument had broken out between the Westerners and the Afghans just before the attack took place.

Other than the argument, though, the shooter’s motives were not yet clear, Afghan officials said. They confirmed Tuesday he was a member of the police force and not simply disguised as one.

Turncoat shootings such as this one are becoming a serious issue, just as the U.S. is sending in more troops to act as trainers to the Afghan police and military. The NATO force has been gradually handing over territory to Afghan security control, a process that is expected to be mainly completed by the end of next year.

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-- Laura King

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