Two US troops killed by Afghan soldier in Nangarhar attack

In a photo taken on July 7, 2018, US Army soldiers from NATO are seen through a cracked window of an armed vehicle in a checkpoint during a patrol against Islamic State militants at the Deh Bala district in the eastern province of Nangarhar Province.
In a photo taken on July 7, 2018, US Army soldiers from NATO are seen through a cracked window of an armed vehicle in a checkpoint during a patrol against Islamic State militants at the Deh Bala district in the eastern province of Nangarhar Province.PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (AFP) - Two American troops were killed and six others wounded when an Afghan soldier armed with a machine gun opened fire, the US military confirmed on Sunday (Feb 9). 

The incident occurred late Saturday in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan when US and Afghan commandos were conducting a “key-leader engagement” at a base in Sherzad district.

“Current reports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined US and Afghan force with a machine gun,” US Forces- Afghanistan spokesman Sonny Leggett said in a statement on Sunday.

Provincial governor Shah Mahmood Meyakil said in an audio message to reporters that three Afghan commandos were wounded.

He said it was not immediately clear if the incident was a deliberate act by an “infiltrator” or an accident.

“It was not a clash between the forces. We are investigating,” Meyakil said.

Leggett also stressed the cause or motive behind the attack were not immediately known.

In a tweet, the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) said “several” of its soldiers had been killed or injured during combat operations in Afghanistan.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

DEADLIEST YEAR

Last year was the deadliest for US forces in Afghanistan since combat operations officially finished at the end of 2014, highlighting the challenging security situation that persists.

In December, Taleban infiltrators in the Afghan military killed nine Afghan soldiers in central Afghanistan.

 
 

In July, an Afghan soldier killed two US troops as they were visiting an Afghan army base in Kandahar.

That came two weeks after another Afghan soldier shot and killed an influential Afghan army colonel while he was conducting a security assessment in Ghazni province.

The latest incident comes even as US and Taleban negotiators are seeking to reach a deal that would allow the United States to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan after more than 18 years of war.

US President Donald Trump has long questioned the wisdom of keeping troops overseas and has described the war in Afghanistan launched after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks as a drain on blood and treasure.

But last year he cancelled a previously unannounced summit at the Camp David presidential retreat with the Taleban because of an attack that killed an American.

He later allowed veteran US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad to resume the talks, which had taken place for months in Qatar.

As talks have fluctuated, violent attacks in the country have raged, with the number of clashes jumping to record levels in the last quarter of 2019, according to a recent US government watchdog report.

Also Saturday, at least four police officers and two civilians were killed when a Taleban suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint in Helmand province, according to the provincial governor's spokesman Said Omar Zwak.