Kabul: An Afghan soldier turned his weapon against foreign and Afghan troops in a southern province, killing one British soldier, another attack by a member of Afghanistan`s military against its foreign allies, officials said today.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting, the first insider attack of 2013. Several British soldiers were also reported wounded.
Such "insider attacks" by Afghan soldiers and police, or men wearing their uniforms, rose dramatically last year. The attacks come as NATO and Afghan forces are in closer contact, as foreign troops hand over security to the Afghans and train them before an almost total withdrawal by the end of 2014.
NATO command spokesman Brig Gen Gunter Katz identified the dead soldier in yesterday`s shooting as British, but his name was not released.
"Yesterday, a suspected member of the Afghan national army shot and killed a British (NATO) soldier," Katz told a news conference. He said the shooting occurred at a patrol base in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province and that the shooter fired at both Afghan and British troops. He said the incident is under investigation.
An Afghan Defense Ministry official said the shooter was an enlisted soldier, and six British soldiers were wounded. The official spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said in an email that "an infiltrator" staged the attack and managed to escape from the scene but was then shot and killed after opening fire on a checkpoint.
The Taliban have used the term "infiltrator" in the past to refer to members who have enlisted in the military to conduct such an attack. They identified the assailant as Mohammad Qasim Faroq.
In London, the Ministry of Defense said the soldier, who was attached to the 21 Engineer Regiment, was killed by small arms fire at Patrol Base Hazrat.
Several similar attacks have occurred in Helmand, the country`s most violent province, where almost all British forces have been concentrated. Capt.
Walter Reid Barrie was shot and killed in Nad Ali district of Helmand November 11, the last British soldier to die before yesterday`s incident.
Two British soldiers were killed by an Afghan policeman last October, and the same month a police officer and militants poisoned their colleagues and shot others, leaving six Afghans dead.
British Prime Minister David Cameron`s spokesman said today that in light of the increase in insider attacks, measures have been taken to increase security in Afghanistan including better vetting and screening of recruits and bolstering counterterrorism efforts.