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Afghan Soldier Kills 1 American in Jalalabad Attack

  • Ayesha Tanzeem

The body of an Afghan national army soldier lies in an army vehicle after he opened fire on U.S. troops, in the compound of the provincial governor, Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 8, 2015.

The body of an Afghan national army soldier lies in an army vehicle after he opened fire on U.S. troops, in the compound of the provincial governor, Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, April 8, 2015.

A U.S. soldier was killed and at least two others wounded Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan when an Afghan national army soldier opened fire on them. The assailant was killed in return fire and officials say the incident is under investigation.

The latest so-called insider attack took place in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad shortly after a senior American diplomat concluded security talks with regional leaders.

Provincial police chief Fazil Ahmad Sherzad said a group of American soldiers from the NATO-led Resolute Support mission assisted in providing security to the high-level meeting at the provincial governor’s office.

Sherzad said as soon as the meeting ended and the guests were flown out of the compound, the group of American soldiers along with Afghan forces began leaving the area. He said suddenly, a member of the national army aboard a police vehicle opened fire at them with his machine gun, prompting a firefight.

The police chief said the retaliatory action killed the Afghan soldier and wounded two others. He refused to provide details of the American casualties, but a NATO statement later confirmed one of its soldiers was killed in the attack, without discussing his nationality.

The U.S. embassy said all of its staff were accounted for and returned safely to their mission’s headquarters in Kabul.

Probe underway

There was no immediate explanation for the incident and no group claimed responsibility for it. Authorities were continuing their investigation.

The American soldier killed in the incident was helping to train and advise Afghan troops, part of the contingent of 9,800 U.S. forces remaining in Afghanistan after U.S. President Barack Obama withdrew combat troops at the end of 2014.

The U.S. soldier was the first killed in Afghanistan since Obama last month reversed plans to cut the U.S. troop level in half by the end of this year after new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a personal plea to the American leader during a visit to Washington. Taliban militants have continued their sporadic attacks on Afghan security forces.

“An incident in Jalalabad today resulted in the death of one Resolute Support service member,” said a statement from the offices of the Resolute Support Mission, the force that transitioned from the International Security Assistance Force on January 1.

The statement added the incident is “under investigation.”

Governor's compound, Jalalabad

Governor's compound, Jalalabad

Nangarhar’s provincial police chief said the shooting happened in the compound of the Jalalabad governor’s house after the meeting between U.S. and Afghan officials. All the delegates had left the compound and are reported safe.

A short statement from the U.S. embassy in Kabul said diplomats are “aware of the exchange of fire” and soldiers from the “Resolute Support Mission were involved."

The Associated Press identified the Afghan soldier in Wednesday's attack as Abdul Azim, from Laghman province.

AP also reported three American soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Series of attacks

In another apparent insider attack, an Afghan soldier killed three U.S. contractors at the Kabul airport in January.

The Associated Press identified the Afghan soldier in Wednesday's attack as Abdul Azim, from Laghman province.

Attacks by Afghan soldiers on Western forces, known as green-on-blue attacks, were a serious concern when U.S. troops were playing a combat role until the end of last year in Afghanistan.

Last year, a U.S. major general was killed and 16 international troops were wounded in one such attack. Three years ago, NATO confirmed 45 insider attacks killed 61 of its personnel, mostly Americans.

2012 was a bloody year for ISAF forces when NATO confirmed 45 attacks killed 61 of its personnel, mostly Americans.

Since then, the preventative measures introduced by NATO and Afghans have led to a decline in such assaults.

Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad..

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