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Afghan police officer kills 6 U.S. service members, officials say

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan border policeman killed six American servicemen during a training mission Monday, underscoring one of the risks in a U.S.-led program to educate enough recruits to turn over the lead for security to Afghan forces by 2014.

The shooting in a remote area near the Pakistani border appeared to be the deadliest attack of its kind in at least two years.

Attacks on NATO troops by Afghan policemen or soldiers, although still rare, have increased as the coalition has accelerated the program. Other problems with the rapidly growing security forces include drug use, widespread illiteracy and high rates of attrition.

A spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, Zemeri Bashary, confirmed that the gunman in Monday's attack was a border police officer rather than an insurgent who donned the uniform for a day.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the gunman joined the border police to kill foreign soldiers. "Today he found this opportunity and he killed six invaders," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement e-mailed to the media.

The shooter opened fire on the NATO troops and then was killed in the shootout, NATO said, without providing additional details.

Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that the six killed were American. He declined to provide their identities or say which military branch they were from until next of kin could be notified.

Bashary said the incident happened in the Pachir Wagam district of Nangarhar province, a volatile area near Pakistan.

An investigation team has been sent to Pachir Wagam, said Gen. Aminullah Amerkhail, the regional border police commander for the east.

Afghan police officer kills 6 U.S. service members, officials say 11/29/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:25pm]
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