British soldiers shot dead by rogue Afghan army officer
TWO British soldiers have been shot dead by an Afghan army officer after an argument at the British headquarters in Helmand province.
The unnamed Britons died when an Afghan lieutenant opened fire as they guarded a gate onto the British-run provincial reconstruction team (PRT) base in Lashkar Gah, Afghan officials said.
Lt Gul Nazir had quarrelled with the soldiers on guard duty after they refused to allow him and several of his men onto the base to meet colleagues due to arrive on a flight.
The deaths are the latest in a spate of “green on blue” killings where Afghan forces have turned their weapons on their Nato allies.
Commanders fear suspicion spread by the killings risks undermining efforts to train and advise the Afghan army and police in preparation for them to take charge of security duties by the end of 2014.
The incidents have increased in recent months. Six American soldiers were shot dead by Afghan personnel last month alone, in apparent retaliation for the burning of Korans at Bagram airfield, north of Kabul.
A total of 15 Nato troops have been shot dead by their Afghan allies in the first three months of 2012 – or one in six of all coalition dead.
Col Abdul Nabi Elham, provincial police chief, said Lt Nazir appeared to have become angered when the sentries had told him and his men to wait outside at around 11am.
He said: “These Afghan soldiers came from another district and they had come to meet friends arriving on a flight at the PRT. The British said it was not allowed and they just had to wait outside.” Two Britons were killed and another was critically wounded, he said.
Lt Nazir was also killed in the ensuing fire fight.
Ghulam Farooq Parwani, deputy commander of Afghan forces in Helmand, confirmed Lt Nazir had spent four years in the army and was from Achin district of Nangahar province in eastern Afghanistan.
The killings have raised fears of infiltration by insurgents, but investigators have found many of the killings had no apparent links to the Taliban and appeared driven by personal grievance, or resentment of the foreign presence.
Classified military research into the killings last year concluded there was often deep mistrust between the Nato-led and Afghan forces.
Afghans saw their Western comrades as arrogant, rude and aggressive.
In turn, the foreign forces often characterised their Afghan comrades as lazy, thieving and addicted to drugs.
Mistrust has deepened as the killings have continued and Nato and foreign embassies warned their staff to brace for further attacks as anti-Western sentiment was stirred by the Koran burnings and the massacre of 17 civilians by a rogue American soldier in Kandahar.
Hundreds of foreign aid advisers were temporarily removed from Afghan government ministries in Kabul last month after two American officers were shot dead in a joint command centre by an Afghan interior ministry driver who is still on the run.
Coalition troops are increasingly moving to closely-matched advisory and training roles rather than combat as they prepare to hand security duties to Kabul.
A statement from Nato headquarters in Kabul said: “An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing two service members.
“The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire. A joint Afghan and ISAF team is investigating the incident.”