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Afghan policeman opens fire at checkpoint; 2 U.S. troops injured

April 27, 2012 |  3:56 am

Checkpoint
KABUL, Afghanistan -- In back-to-back blows to Western efforts to forge a crucial partnership with the Afghan police and army, a new attack by an Afghan police officer left two American troops injured, and authorities disclosed Friday that an Afghan soldier who killed an American earlier this week was a member of an elite special force.

So-called green-on-blue incidents -- attacks on NATO troops by Afghan counterparts -- have become a common occurrence in recent months, even as Western officials pin hopes for an orderly exit from Afghanistan on providing sufficient training to Afghan forces so that they can take over the task of fighting the Taliban.

Long-term Western financial support earmarked for the Afghan police and army is expected to be a major point of discussion at a landmark NATO summit in Chicago in less than a month, which will also touch on a number of other broad strategic issues in the 10-year-old war. 

The latest attack took place Thursday evening in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, according to district police chief Masoom Khan. He said an altercation broke out at a checkpoint jointly manned by Afghan and Western troops, and at least one Afghan police officer opened fire. Two policemen were killed in ensuing fire from the NATO troops, whom he identified as American.

New details emerged, meanwhile, about a similar attack in Kandahar province, this one in Shah Wali Kot district, which had taken place Wednesday.

An Afghan army corps commander, Gen. Abdul Hameed, said a member of the Afghan special forces opened fire amid a verbal altercation and killed an American, whom he also described as a member of the U.S. special forces. An Afghan interpreter was wounded, he said.

NATO officials confirmed the death Wednesday of a Western service member at the hands of a man in an Afghan army uniform, but declined to provide any other information about the shooting.

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--Laura King and Aimal Yaqubi

Photo: Afghan security officials stand guard at a roadside checkpoint in Kabul. Credit: S. Sabawoon / EPA

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