American service member killed in latest attack by Afghan soldier
KABUL, Afghanistan -- In the latest in an accelerating series of "insider" attacks, an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on U.S. troops Friday, killing one American and wounding two others, Afghan and U.S. officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Such shootings are becoming an urgent problem for the American-led military coalition. Similar assaults have caused the deaths of at least 21 NATO troops this year, and wounded an undisclosed number of others.
Many of the attacks have occurred as Western forces are training Afghan police and soldiers -- a task that is taking on greater urgency as the NATO force prepares to wind down its combat role and Afghan security forces are handed the responsibility for safeguarding increasingly larger swaths of the country.
Several more areas of Afghanistan to be turned over to Afghan security control are expected to be announced early next week by President Hamid Karzai, in advance of a NATO summit in Chicago later this month. At that gathering, the coalition is expected to reaffirm plans to send most combat troops home by 2014, but to continue providing Afghanistan with development aid and help in training its military.
Afghan officials said Friday's shooting took place at an Afghan army base in Ghaziabad, a rugged and mountainous district of Kunar province, in northeastern Afghanistan. The area is a major infiltration route for insurgents crossing over from Pakistan.
Wasefullah Wasify, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the assailant, who escaped, was an Afghan soldier named Mahmood, from Marja, in Helmand province. That district was the scene of a major U.S.-led offensive two years ago that drove the Taliban from longtime strongholds, although the insurgents have since been filtering back.
The NATO force issued a statement confirming the death of a service member at the hands of a man in an Afghan army uniform, without providing details, and said the incident was under investigation.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the attacker had acted at the behest of the insurgents. However, the group makes a similar claim almost every time a shooting of this kind occurs, and it could not be corroborated independently.
Also Friday, the NATO force said an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan killed a Western service member, without identifying him by nationality.
-- Laura King