World & Nation

International soldier slain in Afghanistan by alleged private guard

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A gunman who allegedly was a contract security guard killed a member of the international coalition forces in southern Afghanistan before he was killed, NATO said in a statement Saturday, raising the specter of a possible “insider” attack.

An investigation was underway into the attack, the alliance said. The nationalities of the coalition member and the assailant were not released.

Ghulam Gelani Farahee, deputy police chief of Zabul province, said he was informed of the incident, which took place at a remote location, but information remained scarce. The alleged security guard, known as a “local guard,” was contracted by NATO, he added.

In a separate case, NATO said, another coalition member died Saturday in southern Afghanistan from a non-battle-related injury. The international coalition didn’t provide details.


The periphery of many NATO facilities, as well as embassies and such soft targets as Western hotels and the headquarters of civic groups, are protected by private or government-employed Afghan security guards, patrolling the front lines.

No one took immediate responsibility for the latest shooting. But in recent years, there’s been a rise in insider attacks in which foreign troops are killed by men in Afghan police, army or related security uniforms. The Taliban has encouraged insider strikes, often exploiting them for publicity purposes.

These attacks serve several purposes, analysts said. They sows distrust between the foreign and Afghan militaries at a time when cooperation is increasingly important. Foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan in late 2014, placing a premium on cooperation, joint patrols and training as Afghans assume more responsibility for their nation’s security.

The Taliban and other militant groups also see insider attacks as a way to hasten the departure of foreign troops. This departure, they believe, will give them the upper hand against the Afghan government and other rivals, allowing them to reassert political control. The Taliban, which was pushed out of power in 2001 after the U.S.-led invasion, advocates a state based on Islamic law.


The Taliban sometimes exaggerate claims, however, taking credit for killings it did not plan or participate in, including insider attacks that result from cultural misunderstandings.

In a separate incident, residents in the eastern province of Nangarhar said Saturday that five civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike late Friday. Previous civilian death cases have strained relations between Washington and Kabul.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said the civilians were killed about 10 p.m. near the provincial airport. The victims were sitting in their garden when the helicopter opened fire and killed them, according to some media reports. All the civilians were adults, he said, and a team has been sent to investigate the exact circumstances.

The U.S.-led coalition said it targeted insurgents and its initial reports indicated there were no civilian casualties. It said an investigation was underway.


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Twitter: @markmagnier

Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.

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