Four U.S. soldiers were shot dead in southern Afghanistan, the second incident in less than 24 hours in which NATO forces were killed by individuals dressed in Afghan police uniforms.
The U.S. soldiers were killed in Zabul province at about 2 a.m. local time in the district of Mezan, said Ghulam Jilani Farahi, the deputy police chief of Zabul province, in a phone interview. “The assailant was an Afghan policeman, and he was shot dead in response by American soldiers,” he said. Two British soldiers were killed in Helmand province yesterday.
So-called insider attacks on North Atlantic Treaty Organization and International Security Assistance Forces personnel in Afghanistan are increasing, with at least 46 deaths, mostly Americans, so far this year, compared with 35 in all of 2011, according to figures on ISAF’s website.
The insider attacks are the “major problem creating distrust among Afghan and ISAF troops,” Waheed Mujda, a former senior Taliban official and a Kabul-based political analyst, said in a phone interview today. Events including the “mocking video of Prophet Muhammad produced in the U.S.” are giving Afghans troops “incentive to target their allies,” he said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks, said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed in a phone interview.
ISAF confirmed that four soldiers were shot dead by an individual wearing an Afghan police uniform, while declining to confirm the victims’ nationality. The incident is still being investigated, said Lt. Col. Hagen Messer, an ISAF spokesman, in a phone interview.
“Two British soldiers were shot dead yesterday afternoon by an individual believed to be an Afghan local police,” Messer said. The attacker was killed in response, he added.