Monday 27 January 2020

US soldier dies in Afghan base attack

Afghanistan National Army soldiers stand guard at a gate to Camp Qargha, west of Kabul (AP)
Afghanistan National Army soldiers stand guard at a gate to Camp Qargha, west of Kabul (AP)

A man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire today on foreign troops at a military base, killing at least one US soldier and injuring 15, including a German brigadier general and "about a dozen" Americans, authorities said.

Details about the attack at Camp Qargha, a base west of the Afghan capital, Kabul, were not immediately clear.

General Mohammmad Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Defence Ministry, said a "terrorist in an army uniform" opened fire on both local and international troops.

Gen Azimi said the shooter had been killed and that three Afghan army officers were injured.

A US official said one American soldier was killed and "about a dozen" of the wounded were Americans but declined to comment further.

Germany's military said one Nato soldier was killed while 15 others were wounded in an assault launched "probably by internal attackers".

The wounded included a German brigadier general, who the German military said was receiving medical treatment and was "not in a life-threatening condition."

In its statement, Nato said that it was "in the process of assessing the situation".

Qargha is known as "Sandhurst in the sand," as British forces oversaw building the officer school and its training programme.

In a statement, the British Defence Ministry said it was investigating the incident and that "it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time".

The attack comes as so-called "insider attacks" - incidents in which Afghan security turn on their Nato partners - largely dropped last year.

In 2013, there were 16 deaths in 10 separate attacks. In 2012, such attacks killed 53 coalition troops in 38 separate attacks.

Such insider attacks are sometimes claimed by the Taliban insurgency as proof of their infiltration.

Others are attributed to personal disputes or resentment by Afghans who have soured on the continued international presence in their country more than a dozen years after the fall of the Taliban's ultra-conservative Islamic regime.

Foreign aid workers, contractors and other civilians in Afghanistan are increasingly becoming targets of violence as the US-led military coalition continues a withdrawal to be complete by the end of the year.

In eastern Paktia province, an Afghan police guard also exchanged fire Tuesday with Nato troops near the governor's office, provincial police chief General Zelmia Oryakhail said.

The guard was killed in the gunfight, he said. It was not clear if the two incidents were linked and police said they were investigating the incident.

A Nato helicopter strike targeting missile-launching Taliban militants killed four civilians in western Afghanistan, an Afghan official said Tuesday. Nato said they were investigating the attack.

The attack in western Herat province comes as civilian casualties from Nato attacks remain a contentious issue across the country.

Almost 200 people protested against Nato in Herat on Tuesday, carrying the bodies of the dead civilians into the provincial capital and demanding an investigation.

The strike happened on Monday night in the province's Shindan district, said Raouf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial chief of police.

He said Taliban militants launched a missile at an airport nearby, drawing the Nato helicopter's fire. He said the Nato attack killed two men, one woman and a child.

In a statement, Nato said it was aware of the attack and was investigating, without elaborating.

Nato "takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and is assessing the facts surrounding this incident," it said.

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