- Nov 8, 2007
- Minneapolis, MN
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46216385/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/#.TylFSvmqj0UKABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. defense officials are to tell Congress Wednesday that supposedly friendly Afghanistan security forces have attacked U.S. and coalition troops 45 times since May 2007, for the first time laying out details of attacks that have killed 70 and wounded 110.
Defense officials say that in most cases the Afghans acted out of personal motivation and were not controlled by insurgent groups.
The second most common circumstances involve insurgents impersonating Afghan security forces.
The revelations were made in testimony prepared for delivery Wednesday to the House Armed Services Committee. It was obtained by The Associated Press.
The latest such killing happened Wednesday when an Afghan soldier shot and killed a NATO service member in southern Afghanistan, officials said.
The news came as The Times newspaper, which operates behind a paywall, reported Wednesday that a secret U.S. military report said the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, are set to retake control over Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country.
Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), confirmed the document's existence but said it was not a strategic study of operations.
Insider attacks by Afghan security forces have been on the rise, punctuated by the Jan. 20 shooting of four French troops by an Afghan soldier that prompted France to threaten to withdraw its forces earlier than planned.
International forces and the Afghan army disagreed on exactly what happened in Wednesday's killing.
Cummings, the ISAF spokesman, said Afghan soldiers detained the gunman after he attacked NATO troops Tuesday night. The coalition gave no other details.
Afghan National Army commander Sayed Malluk confirmed the shooting, which he said happened during a night patrol in Helmand province's Marjah district.
But he said the Afghan soldier, who has been in the army for more than two years, told investigators the shooting was an accident.
After the French soldiers were killed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France would speed up the exit of its troops from Afghanistan and that it would ask NATO to hand over all combat operations to Afghan forces in 2013 instead of by the end of 2014.
Sarkozy at the time said the attacker was a Taliban infiltrator, but Afghan and NATO investigators have said it was too early to know his motivation.
'Isolated cases'? The rising number of attacks by supposed friendly Afghan forces has prompted speculation that Taliban insurgents or sympathizers may be infiltrating national army and police as they rapidly expand to meet a 2014 target for Afghan forces to take over security and most international troops to leave.
The number of attacks on international troops — by Afghan soldiers, police or insurgents wearing their uniforms — rose sharply last year to 17, up from six in 2010.
But NATO spokesman Cummings said Wednesday the rising number of attacks doesn't point to any pattern.
"We feel they're isolated cases," he said. "There's no indication these incidents are linked or part of any coordinated effort."
Cummings said that the 130,000-strong international force works daily with more than 300,000 Afghan security personnel, mostly without problems.
He said that NATO is satisfied with Afghanistan's vetting process for army recruits.
Cummings said the document published by The Times was "classified" and "a compilation of Taliban detainee opinions."
"It's not an analysis, nor is it meant to be considered an analysis," he said.
Nevertheless, it could be interpreted as a damning assessment of the war, now dragging into its eleventh year and aimed at blocking a Taliban return to power, or possibly an admission of defeat.
This should fuel the lets get out of Afghanistan crowd.