Asadabad: Six American soldiers training Afghan police in a Taliban flashpoint were
shot dead by one of their students in the deadliest such incident in at least two years, officials said Tuesday.
The shooting, which follows a string of similar
attacks on NATO troops, underscores the challenges faced by
the US-led mission as it aims to build the national army and
police to take responsibility for security by 2014.
NATO`s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
said the gunman, identified as a local resident who had been
in training with Western troops for only a few days, was also
killed, and an investigation was underway.
Wearing Afghan border police uniform, the man turned
his weapon against ISAF troops during the training mission
yesterday, killing the six soldiers in Taliban-infested
eastern Afghanistan, NATO announced.
A US defence official identified the six troops as
Americans but declined to give further details.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor of
Nangarhar province where the incident took place, named the
gunman as Azat Gul, a policeman being schooled at the training
centre in the Pachir Agam area of Khogyani district.
"After a few days of training, yesterday he opened
fire and killed six American soldiers. The incident is under
serious investigation," Abdulzai told AFP.
Americans make up most of the foreign troops based in
eastern Afghanistan, one of the worst flashpoints in the
nine-year Taliban insurgency.
The deaths bring the number of coalition troop
fatalities this year to 668, according to an AFP tally based
on that tracked by the independent icasualties.org website.
It is the highest annual toll since the US-led
invasion in late 2001. Last year 521 NATO soldiers died.
A Taliban spokesman praised the attack in emailed
comments carried by the SITE Monitoring service.
Naming the attacker as Izzatullah, the spokesman said
he had shot dead six US soldiers and wounded several others
before being killed in return fire.
The Taliban have made unsubstantiated claims of
attacks on NATO forces.
The United States is bankrolling a massive programme
-- USD 9.2 billion in fiscal 2010 -- to build Afghanistan`s
army and police so they can take over responsibility for
security by 2014, as pledged by NATO in Lisbon a week ago.
But the programme has been troubled by a series of
shootings, either by insurgents dressed in Afghan security
uniforms or rogue officers.