Three US soldiers killed, one wounded by Afghan soldier

Afghan commandos prepare to launch mortar shells on an ISIS stronghold in April 2017.
Afghan commandos prepare to launch mortar shells on an ISIS stronghold in April 2017.PHOTO: AFP

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (REUTERS) - Three American soldiers were killed and one wounded on Saturday (June 10) when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them in eastern Afghanistan, according to three US officials.

The shooting occurred in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, where US special forces have been fighting alongside Afghan troops against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Taleban militants, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial governor.

The Afghan soldier was killed in the incident, Khogyani said. “The cause of the shooting is not clear. An investigation has already begun,” he said.

One US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the incident was a “green-on-blue” attack by a member of the Afghan security forces in Nangarhar province.

So-called “green-on-blue” insider attacks by Afghan soldiers on international service members were a major problem several years ago, but now occur less frequently after security measures were improved and the number of foreign troops in the country fell sharply.

In March, three US soldiers were wounded when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them.

The attack comes as President Donald Trump’s administration weighs an increase in troops in the war-torn country.

Reuters reported in late April that Trump’s administration was carrying out a review of Afghanistan and conversations are revolving around sending between 3,000 and 5,000 US and coalition troops to Afghanistan.

Deliberations include giving more authorities to forces on the ground and taking more aggressive action against Taleban fighters. This could allow US advisers to work with Afghan troops below the corps level, potentially putting them closer to fighting, a US official said.

Earlier this year, the top US intelligence said the security situation in Afghanistan will further deteriorate even if there is a modest increase in US military support for Afghanistan.

In some cases Afghan troops have been forced to abandon more scattered and rural bases, and the government can claim to control or influence only 57 per cent of the country, according to US military estimates from earlier this year.

A spokesman for the US military command in Kabul said they were aware of the report, but could not yet confirm any details.

A White House spokesman said Trump was “following the emerging situation in Afghanistan” where the soldiers were killed.

Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the shooter was a member of the militant group and had killed four Americans and wounded several more.