NATO: 2 Service Members Killed in Afghanistan

August 4, 2011 - 5:13 AM

Afghanistan

Afghan police officers carry the body of a hotel guard in a black cloth after a suicide attack in Kunduz, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle outside a small residential hotel frequented by foreigners just after dawn Tuesday. (AP Photo/ Ahmed Bilal)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A man in an Afghan police uniform on Thursday shot dead a NATO service member in the east of the country, the second such killing in less than a month, the alliance said.

Separately, another NATO service member died following an insurgent attack, also Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, the volatile second front of the nearly decade-long war in this country. Most of the fighting takes place in southern Afghanistan.

NATO did not provide details or nationalities of the two deceased, pending notification of their relatives.

The international coalition in Afghanistan said the first killing occurred "when an individual wearing an Afghan National Police uniform turned his weapon against" the NATO soldier. NATO said it was assessing the incident.

It did not say if the man was a police officer or someone disguised as one.

Since March 2009, at least 40 coalition troops have been killed in more than 20 shootings by members of the Afghan security forces or assailants wearing Afghan uniforms.

In about half the cases, attackers impersonated Afghan policemen or soldiers, coalition officials have said. Afghan uniforms are easily obtained at stores in the capital of Kabul, despite efforts to crack down on such illegal sales. The other half of the shootings have been attributed to combat stress or unknown reasons.

Last week, the Interior Ministry said it raided an unlicensed factory in Kabul that was making uniforms and other military accessories. Kabul police denied reports that it was manufacturing uniforms for the Taliban, but did say the products were being sold at bazaars around the city.

Thursday's deaths raised the number of foreign troops killed this year to 330. Last year, 404 died in the first seven months of the year.

On Wednesday, three members of the U.S.-led military coalition were killed. Two died in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan where foreign forces are trying to hold the ground they seized from Taliban insurgents in major offensives over the past year, NATO said. The third soldier died in a noncombat-related incident in east Afghanistan.

Insurgents have often worn uniforms of Afghan security forces as disguises to get inside heavily guarded military bases and target international and government forces. Enlisted Afghan soldiers and police also have turned on their NATO and Afghan colleagues — sometimes because arguments have inflamed tensions or because of an alliance or sympathy with the Taliban.

On July 16, a British soldier was shot and killed by an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform when he turned his weapon against him in Gereshk district in Helmand province. The Taliban said the assailant, who escaped, was a sleeper agent who had infiltrated the Afghan military.

In May, two U.S. service members were killed by an Afghan policeman in Helmand province. The two were mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade and were shot and killed inside the police compound as they sat down to eat lunch.

Since March 2009, at least 40 coalition troops have been killed in more than 20 shootings by members of the Afghan security forces or assailants wearing Afghan uniforms.

In other violence, an employee with the Afghan national intelligence service was killed when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in northern Kunduz province, according to provincial spokesman Mubobullah Sayedi. Local police said three children were wounded in the blast just outside Kunduz city and that one of them died on the way to hospital.

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Associated Press Writer Patrick Quinn contributed to this report from Kabul.