KABUL: An Afghan army soldier killed two British troops at their headquarters in southern Afghanistan on Monday, Britain and NATO officials said, in the latest attack by rogue Afghan security personnel on Western troops.
So-called insider attacks have mounted recently as tension between Afghanistan and its foreign backers rises over a series of incidents, including the burning of copies the Holy Quran at a NATO base and a massacre of 17 villagers for which a US soldier was charged.
The latest incident took place in Lashkar Gah city in southern Helmand province, the main area of operations for British forces in Afghanistan.
“It appears that a member of the Afghan national army opened fire at entrance gate to the British headquarters at Lashkar Gah city, killing the two British service personnel,”
Britain’s Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, told parliament in London.
The attacker was shot dead by Nato soldiers, the alliance and the governor’s office said.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The provincial governor’s office said that the base housed military and civilian reconstruction teams.
“A joint Afghan and ISAF team is investigating the incident,” said Captain Justin M. Brockhoff, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistant Force.
The latest deaths bring to 407 the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Before Monday’s attack, 13 members of the Nato-led force had been killed this year in what appeared to be attacks by members of Afghan forces, the commander of US and Nato forces, General John Allen, told a US Senate committee last week.
About 70 members of the Nato force have been killed in 42 insider attacks from May 2007 to January this year.
The shootings raise new concern about the reliability of Afghan forces and their ability to take over security responsibilities by the end of 2014, when most Western combat forces are to leave.
Some incidents have been carried out by Afghan security forces reacting to the burning of copies of the Holy Quran last month, some have been due to private grievances and others have been carried out by Taliban insurgents who infiltrated the security forces.
An Afghan army general has said that the Taliban have a sophisticated system to infiltrate Afghanistan’s security forces and vetting of recruits must be severely tightened.
The Taliban have proven resilient in the face of far superior Western firepower. But poor management of the recruiting process for the army and police has also given them an opportunity to infiltrate.