US soldier shot dead in Afghanistan 'insider attack'

An Afghan soldier opened fire at a group of US troops in the city of Jalalabad in eastern on Wednesday, killing an American soldier and wounding at least two others before he was shot dead.

The incident happened after a meeting between Afghan provincial leaders and a US embassy official in the compound of the provincial governor in Jalalabad. All US embassy staff were accounted for and returned safely to their mission headquarters, the embassy said.

Nato confirmed that one of its soldiers died in the attack, without providing the soldier’s nationality, as is the coalition’s policy. A US official confirmed to the Associated Press the soldier was an American.

It was the second fatality suffered by Nato since the beginning of the year, when the coalition launched its new mission in Afghanistan, Resolute Support. An Afghan soldier killed three American contractors on 29 January.

General Fazel Ahmad Sherzad, who is police chief for the eastern Nangarhar province, where the shooting happened, said it took place immediately after the embassy official had left the meeting in the governor’s compound.

“Right after the US official had left, suddenly an Afghan army soldier opened fire on the US soldiers who were present in the compound,” Sherzad said.

The American troops returned fire, killing the Afghan soldier, whom Sherzad identified as Abdul Azim, from Laghman province.

The motive for his attack was not immediately known and no group claimed responsibility for the assault. In 2014, there were at least four insider attacks in Afghanistan. Also, in past attacks, Taliban insurgents have been known to wear Afghan police or military uniforms to stage attacks on the international troops.

The US ambassador to Afghanistan, P Michael McKinley, was not present at the time of the incident, said Sherzad.

Information was sketchy and an eyewitness said four US troops had been wounded in the attack, not three as Sherzad said, and were being treated at a clinic on the American base in Jalalabad.

In a statement, the US embassy in Kabul, referring to the US-led coalition, said: “We are aware that there was an exchange of gunfire involving Resolute Support service members near the provincial governor’s compound in Jalalabad.

“The incident took place after a senior US official held a meeting with the provincial governor. All chief of mission personnel of the visiting party are accounted for,” spokeswoman Monica Cummings said.

Noman Atefi, the spokesman for the Afghan national army’s eastern corps command, said one Afghan soldier had been killed and two others wounded in the shootout. It was not immediately clear if the fatality he was referring to among the Afghans was the attacker.

Earlier, an Afghan official said two people were killed and three wounded in an ambush late on Tuesday aimed at police in eastern Kunar province, where the Taliban have a strong presence.

Farid Dhekhan, the spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the attack, which occurred in Narang district, targeted a police vehicle, which escaped unharmed. The dead were a man and woman from the same family, Dhekhan said, speaking on Wednesday.

Kunar is on the eastern border with Pakistan and has long been an insurgent stronghold.

The Western-backed Afghan government’s nearly 13-year war against the insurgents has intensified as both sides seek to strengthen their positions before possible peace talks.

Source : theguardian[dot]com
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