6 Troops Die in Weekend Afghan Insider Attacks

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 16 2012 1:07 PM

6 Troops Die in Weekend Afghan Insider Attacks as NATO Airstrike Kills 8 Women and Girls

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U.S. Infantry men attend a briefing prior to embarking on a night patrol from Lindsey foward operating base on September 15, 2012 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan

Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP/GettyImages

Four U.S. troops were killed by an Afghan police officer in a remote checkpoint early Sunday, bringing to six the number of NATO deaths caused by supposedly allied Afghans over the weekend. In all, eight foreign service members have been killed over the last three days by Afghan forces or insurgents disguised in military uniform, reports the Associated Press.

Part of the reason for strained relations between NATO troops and their Afghan allies has been civilian casualties. And that’s why it’s likely foreign troops will be even more vigilant following the killing of at least eight women in a NATO air strike on Afghanistan’s eastern province of Lagham, reports the BBC. NATO acknowledged that between five and eight civilians were killed in the attack that had been targeting a group of around 45 insurgents. Meanwhile, NATO also released details of the Taliban's attack on the southern Afghanistan coalition base where Prince Harry is stationed, revealing that it was "one of the most determined and effective ever seen in Afghanistan," notes the Wall Street Journal. The late Friday attack destroyed six U.S. combat jets and damaged two others, the largest loss of combat aircraft in a single incident since the beginning of the Afghan war.

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On Saturday, two British soldiers were shot dead by an Afghan policeman in the southern province of Helmand. So far this year, at least 51 foreign troops have been killed in these “insider,” or “green on blue” attacks, increasing tensions at a critical period when the focus should be on handing over security to local Afghan forces by the end of 2014, points out Reuters.

No one really knows why these types of attacks have surged in recent months. It’s possible some local forces have become less tolerant of the foreign presence as they increasingly take on a leading role in the fighting. Or it could just be a question of numbers. The huge growth of the Afghan National Forces over the past years makes it “hard to imagine that a few bad apples didn’t get through the recruitment and vetting processes,” points out the Guardian, noting that the attacks could end up undermining NATO’s efforts at an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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