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Afghan ‘insider attack’ kills two US soldiers

Two US soldiers have been killed by a member of the Afghan local police, in an increasingly common form of attack on ISAF forces. The total number of international troops killed in this manner this year alone is now 39.

Two American soldiers were killed by a member of the Afghan local police Friday in the latest "green-on-blue" attack, NATO said. According to NATO figures, 39 international troops have been killed in 28 such attacks so far this year.

The attack came a week after six American troops were killed in a single day by their local colleagues, further eroding trust between foreign troops and the Afghans they work with and train.

"Two US Forces-Afghanistan service members died this morning as a result of an insider threat attack in [western] Farah province," the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said. "A member of the Afghan Local Police turned his weapon against two USFOR-A service members. The attacker was shot and killed."

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was "very concerned" about the rise in "insider attacks" and the impact they are having on cooperation with Afghan allies.

Some of the attacks are claimed by Taliban insurgents. In a statement released Friday, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar said the Taliban has infiltrated the ranks of the Afghan national security forces.

"Many Afghans in the rank and file of the enemy have shown a willingness to help the mujahedin Muslim guerilla fighters in a shrewd and astute manner after having come around to know the reality," he said.

He asked more Afghan soldiers "to display the same boldness and spirit" in the statement signed Thursday but released a day later. Omar said the Taliban movement has formed a department to help Afghan security forces join the Taliban.

Commander counters

General John Allen, ISAF's senior commander, wrote a "rebuttal" on the organization's website Friday, calling Omar's interview an "umistakeable message of death, hate and hopelessness" during a peaceful holiday period in the Islamic calendar.

"While Omar rests comfortably from afar, he continues to send young brain-washed men to carry out attacks in a fruitless cause," Allen wrote. "He professes love for his fighters, yet he sends them to their deaths by the hundreds."

NATO had already this year started a so-called guardian angel program in which one soldier watches the backs of others as they work with Afghan forces, but it has not prevented a spike in attacks.

NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan gradually and relinquish responsibility for national security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

hc/msh (Reuters, afp, dpa)