ISLAMABAD — At least seven coalition soldiers have been killed by Afghan security forces or gunmen wearing their uniforms in the last week alone. NATO said Monday that such attacks are often the result of personal disputes and will not derail the coalition's plans to transfer security responsibilities to local forces by the end of 2014 is on track.
Coalition officials say they are working with their Afghan partners to try to mitigate “green on blue” attacks, a reference to the color of Afghan and NATO uniforms.
German Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, NATO spokesman, speaks at a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 9, 2012.
NATO spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz told reporters in Kabul Monday that contrary to Taliban claims, the number of attacks by insurgent infiltrators are in the "single digit."
“So when we talk about the insider threat or some call them again green on blue incidents, we talk about 27 incidents so far in this year and we had 37 people killed in those incidents… And most of these incidents were caused by personal grievances, by stress situation, or by battle fatigue,” said Katz.
The NATO spokesman described them as isolated attacks that neither depicted the overall picture in the country nor threatened the Afghan security transition plan.
“Yes we had 27 very tragic incidents. We take them very very seriously," he said. "But we must not forget that on the other side we still got almost 500,000 soldiers and policemen who work together, as we speak right now actually, in order to crush the insurgency and fight for more stability and security here in this country.”
Brigadier Katz said Afghan authorities are now further tightening up the vetting process for new recruits in the Afghan army and police force. NATO is also reemphasizing the need for foreign troops to further understand local cultural sensitivities.
After presenting his credentials to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, new U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham also noted the rise in attacks by Afghan forces on coalition service members.
Ambassador Cunningham told reporters that the United States will work very closely with Afghan authorities to prevent these “painful” incidents from happening in the future.
“This is obviously of great concern to us as it is to your authorities," Cunningham said. "We are working to try to understand why this is happening and believe that there are probably several reasons why this has happened and not just one reason and not just through infiltration.”
Two attacks on Friday left six Americans dead.
The first incident occurred when officials said an Afghan police commander invited three U.S. Marines to a meal at his checkpoint in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province. The police commander fled the scene after opening fire.
In the second attack, officials said late Friday an Afghan civilian employee working at a NATO base not far from the earlier shooting turned a gun on coalition members, killing three American troops.