Sunday, May 26, 2013
The Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan police officer killed at least 10 of his fellow officers Saturday, a day after six U.S. service members were gunned down by their Afghan partners in summer violence that has both international and Afghan forces questioning who is friend or foe.
Attacks on foreign troops by Afghans working with the alliance are on the rise and, while cases of Afghan security forces killing within their own ranks are less frequent, together they show how battle lines have blurred in the decade-long war.
FEAR AND MISTRUST
The assaults on international service members have stoked fear and mistrust of their Afghan allies, threatening to hamper the U.S.-led coalition's ongoing work to train and professionalize Afghan police officers and soldiers.
The attacks also raise questions about the quality of the Afghan forces that have started taking charge of security in many areas of the country as U.S. and NATO combat troops move to withdraw by the end of 2014.
Coalition officials say a few rogue police officers and soldiers should not taint the overall integrity of the Afghan security forces and that the attacks have not impeded plans to hand over security to Afghan forces, which will be 352,000 strong in a few months. But there is growing unease between international troops and their Afghan partners, and that's something Taliban insurgents are happy to exploit.
Shakila Hakimi, a member of the Nimroz provincial council, said the police officer who opened fire on his colleagues at a checkpoint in Dilaram district is believed to have had ties to militants. He was killed in an ensuing gunbattle, she said.
A day earlier, two Afghans shot and killed six American service members in neighboring Helmand province in the south where insurgents have wielded their greatest influence.
In the first attack, an Afghan police officer shot and killed three Marines after sharing a pre-dawn meal with them in the volatile Sangin district, according to Afghan officials.
Sangin's district chief and the Taliban both identified the gunman as Asadullah, a member of the Afghan National Police who was helping the Marines train the Afghan Local Police, a village-level defense force overseen by the Ministry of Interior.
The district chief, Mohammad Sharif, said the shooting happened at a police checkpoint after a joint meal and a security meeting. The meal took place before dawn because of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting in which Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours.
But a U.S. defense official said he's read reports saying a man clad in an Afghan security forces uniform shot the Marines shortly after 1 a.m. not at a checkpoint, but on a coalition outpost.
Sidiq Sidiqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said Saturday that the gunman may have been a member of the Afghan Local Police, but that Afghan investigators also were still reviewing the case.
Around 9 p.m. Friday in the Garmser district farther south, an Afghan working on an installation shared by coalition and Afghan forces shot and killed three other international troops, said Maj. Lori Hodge, a spokeswoman for the coalition in Kabul. A U.S. defense official confirmed the three victims also were Americans. Hodge said both gunmen had been detained.
There also were differing accounts of the Garmser shooter's identity.
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