An Afghan army soldier killed two NATO troops in a new “green-on-blue” insider attack Monday, the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said, amid reports of civilian beheadings by an unknown group.
“A member of the Afghan National Army turned his weapon on ISAF forces, killing two ISAF service members in (eastern) Laghman province today,” a spokesman told AFP.
“ISAF soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker.”
The deaths in Laghman province brought to 12 the number of foreign soldiers killed this month, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times.
They also come a week after U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul to talk about rogue shootings.
“ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier who committed the attack,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.
There have been 33 insider attacks so far this year that have led to 42 coalition deaths. That is a sharp increase from 2011, when, during the whole year, 35 coalition troops were killed in such attacks, 24 of whom were American.
Afghanistan’s government said on Wednesday it would re-examine the files of 350,000 soldiers and police to help curb rogue shootings of NATO personnel, but accused “foreign spies” of instigating the attacks.
The killings, many of which have been claimed by the Taliban as evidence of insurgent reach and infiltration, have eroded trust between the NATO-Afghan allies and are complicating plans for transition to Afghan security within two years.
Meanwhile, an unknown group beheaded seventeen civilians including two women in a southern Afghanistan village in a region plagued by the Taliban insurgency.
“Last night 17 local villagers, two women and 15 men, were beheaded by unknown people in Kajaki district,” Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial administration, told AFP news agency.
“We don’t know who was behind the killings at this time. We’re investigating,” Ahmadi said.
A senior police official in the province, Mohammad Ismael Hotak, confirmed the incident, giving a similar account.
Taliban insurgents are active in the troubled region and they have in the past been blamed for beheading local villagers, mostly over charges of spying for Afghan and U.S.-led NATO forces.
Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in the neighboring district of Musa Qala, said the region had seen a surge in such killings in recent months.
“We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramadan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently,” he said.
Khan said the killings followed major military operations by Afghan and NATO troops in the area.
In a predawn attack on Monday, Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan army post in the troubled southern province of Helmand, killing 10 troopers, authorities said, according to AFP.
Four soldiers were wounded and six others were missing following the attack in the province’s Washir district, senior regional police officer Colonel Mohammad Ismaiel Hotak said.
“There was an attack on one of our posts in Washir district. Ten soldiers are dead in that attack,” said Hotak, the deputy head of the regional coordinating body for the Afghan army and the US-led NATO force.
Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial administration, confirmed the incident and said the attack was an “insider” plot in which some army soldiers helped the rebels attack the post.
“The Taliban attacked a post in Washir and killed 10 soldiers. Four other soldiers were wounded and five others have gone with the Taliban with their guns,” he said. “It was an insider plot.”
Hotak could not confirm Ahmadi’s account but said an investigation was underway.
If it is confirmed that the attack was facilitated by soldiers it will be the latest in a string of insider attacks on Afghan and NATO security forces.
A total of 40 international troops, mostly Americans, have died in such attacks this year.