KABUL: Three American troops were wounded Saturday in an apparent insider attack by an Afghan soldier inside a military base, an official said, as the US appears set to boost its troop presence in the country.
The so-called “green-on-blue” attack at Camp Shaheen near northern Mazar-i-Sharif city is the latest in a string of incidents where Afghan soldiers have turned their weapons on international forces training them.
It comes as Washington is expected to announce an increase in US troops deployed to the country as Afghan forces struggle to rein in the Taliban who are ramping up their offensive against the Western-backed government.
“Initial information shows three US soldiers visiting the base were wounded,” ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish told AFP, adding that the attacker had been gunned down.
US-led NATO forces confirmed that American soldiers had been wounded in “an incident” at Camp Shaheen, without specifying a number.
“At this time we can confirm there are no US or NATO Resolute Support fatalities,” the international coalition said in a brief statement.
“US soldiers have been wounded. One Afghan soldier was killed and one was wounded in the incident.”
The Taliban in a statement did not say if they were directly behind the attack, only crediting a “patriotic Afghan soldier” for the assault.
The latest attack comes a week after an Afghan commando killed three American troops and wounded another when he opened fire at them during an operation in eastern Nangarhar province, a stronghold of Islamic State militants.
Green-on-blue attacks have been a major problem during NATO’s long years fighting alongside Afghan forces.
Western officials say most insider attacks stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than insurgent plots.
Similar incidents have also plagued Afghan troops, depleting morale and causing mistrust within security ranks.
The latest killings come at a time of intensified violence and when the United States is considering sending more troops to Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this week that he will present a new US military strategy for Afghanistan, along with adjusted troop numbers, in the coming weeks to President Donald Trump.
American military commanders in Afghanistan have requested thousands of additional boots on the ground for months to boost the NATO troop presence in the country.
US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400, with another 5,000 from NATO allies, who mainly serve in a training and advisory capacity.
The Afghan conflict is the longest in American history, with US-led NATO troops at war there since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime.