Three U.S. Army soldiers were shot and wounded Sunday when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them inside a base in southern Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand Province, officials said.
The first known “insider attack” on international forces this year occurred around 1:30 p.m. local time at Camp Antonik in Washer District in Helmand.
Navy Cpt. Bill Salvin, a spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, said coalition forces had killed the soldier “to end the attack,” but Col. Mohammad Rasoul Zazai, an Afghan army spokesman, said the soldier had made a “mistake” and had not fired deliberately.
“The US soldiers are receiving medical treatment at this time and we will release more information when available,” Salvin told AFP. The severity of the soldiers wounds was not immediately clear, and Salvin declined to offer more details.
The Guardian: Three US troops wounded after Afghan soldier opens fire
NBC: Three U.S. Soldiers Shot, Wounded by Afghan Soldier at NATO Base in Helmand Province
CBS: Afghan soldier opens fire, wounds 3 U.S. troops
Fox News: 3 US soldiers shot in Afghanistan ‘insider attack’
There are roughly 8,400 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan — more than in Iraq and Syria combined.
Additionally, the Pentagon is weighing a decision to send another 300 U.S. Marines this spring to Afghanistan. The top U.S. commander in the country, Gen. John Nicholson, told Congress earlier this year he needed more U.S. and allied soldiers to help train the Afghan army.
From Yahoo News:
The Marines will head to the poppy-growing province this spring to assist a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, in the latest sign that foreign forces are increasingly being drawn back into the worsening conflict.
So-called insider attacks — when Afghan soldiers and police turn their guns on their colleagues or on international troops — have been a major problem during the more than 15-year-long war.
In May last year, gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms shot dead two Romanian soldiers in neighbouring Kandahar province.
Western officials say that most such attacks stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than insurgent plots.
The killings have bred fierce mistrust between local and foreign forces even as the rate of such incidents has dropped in recent years.
The Afghan military, which has been built from scratch since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, has also struggled with insider attacks, high casualty rates and mass desertions.
Since October, 12 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan and five Americans are currently being held hostage there.