Thursday, June 21, 2018

Attacker wearing Afghan army uniform kills U.S. soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan — A man wearing an Afghan army uniform shot dead a U.S. soldier in the east of the country, one of two NATO troops killed on Friday, military officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Also Friday, the U.S.-led military coalition offered condolences to the families of Afghan civilians who were killed in airstrikes earlier this month.

The shooting was the 15th incident this year in which Afghan soldiers or insurgents disguised in military uniforms have turned their weapons on foreign troops. The killings have increased the level of mistrust between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan partners and raised questions about the readiness of local forces to take over from NATO ahead of a 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops. NATO did not disclose the nationality of the trooper killed, but a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said the service member was an American.

Kirby said U.S. and allied officials are troubled that these attacks are continuing with some regularity despite efforts to improve the vetting of Afghans who are recruited into the army and police. "It continues to be a very worrisome issue for us and for our Afghan partners," he said.

The coalition said an investigation into Friday's attack was under way.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the insurgent group was behind the shooting. The Taliban regularly take credit for attacks, even if they were not involved.

The threat of Afghan soldiers or militants disguised in uniforms turning their guns on NATO troops has long existed but has grown more deadly over the past five years. While there were only a few deaths reported in 2007 and 2008, 35 foreign troops were killed in such attacks last year.

So far this year, there have been 15 such attacks, killing 20 NATO service members, according to Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the U.S.-led NATO coalition.

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