Jon Boone – The Gaurdian November 29, 2010
A “rogue” Afghan policeman turned his gun on his Nato mentors today killing six US soldiers in the worst such attack this year.
The incident, which constitutes the worst day for Nato casualties since October, is the latest example of Afghan policemen and soldiers turning on their foreign military partners, a tactic that the Taliban has claimed credit for.
It will once again raise questions about the policy of seeking to expand Afghan forces as rapidly as possible in preparation for the end of 2014 when Nato’s combat mission in the country is supposed to come to an end.
Officials in Afghanistan were unable today to say whether insurgents were responsible for the attack during a training exercise in the eastern province of Nangahar. The Taliban did not make any immediate attempt to claim credit. The gunmen himself was killed in the incident.
A Nato statement said: “An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Forces during a training mission today, killing six service members in eastern Afghanistan.”
While military officials have insisted that such events will not affect Nato’s commitment to “partnering” in the field with Afghan forces, privately, foreign soldiers say that it can shatter confidence in their Afghan colleagues.
In November last year, five British soldiers were shot by a policeman while resting after a patrol in Helmand. They were completely defenceless as they had put down their weapons and removed their body armour and helmets.
The policeman, called Gulbuddin, successfully fled, apparently to the Taliban, and has never been captured.
In July, an Afghan soldier killed three British Gurkha soldiers. A week later, an Afghan soldier killed two US contractors inside a base in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north.
Insurgents are not always to blame, such as the recent case in the western province of Badghis when an argument led an Afghan trainee to shoot and kill two of his Spanish police officers.
At least 2,238 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the foreign intervention in late 2001. About 1,400 of the fatalities have been Americans. This year is easily the bloodiest of the war, with more than 660 deaths among foreign troops.