An Afghan National Army soldier killed a British trooper and wounded another in an insider, or “green-on-blue” attack, in Helmand province. Today’s attack is the second of its kind in two days. There have been 42 reported insider attacks so far this year, resulting in the deaths of 60 Coalition soldiers and personnel.
Today’s attack took place in the Nad Ali district in Helmand, Afghan provincial and military officials told TOLONews. The Afghan soldier “opened fire during a verbal clash,” the news agency reported. The British troops returned fire and wounded the Afghan soldier.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the attack but would not release the nationality of the soldier who was killed.
“An International Security Assistance Force service member died when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against ISAF service members in southern Afghanistan today,” the ISAF press release stated. “The incident is currently under investigation. It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.”
The British Ministry of Defense later released a statement announcing that Captain Walter Barrie was “shot at close range by a member of the Afghan Army” and killed while British and Afghan soldiers played a soccer match at Forward Operating Base Shawqat in Nad Ali.
The insider attack in Helmand is the second of its kind in the past two days. Yesterday, two Afghan soldiers opened fire on Spanish troops belonging to the Badghis Provincial Reconstruction Team. One Spanish soldier was wounded in the attack, and the two Afghan soldiers were detained. The Taliban have not taken credit for the Badghis attack, but did mention the incident on their propaganda website, Voice of Jihad.
There have been 42 insider attacks reported so far this year, resulting in the deaths of 60 ISAF military and civilian personnel (note: ISAF does not disclose data on all such attacks; ISAF has told The Long War Journal that the overall number of attacks is “classified”). Last year, there were 15 such attacks reported, and in 2010 there were 5. The green-on-blue attacks now account for more than 16 percent of ISAF’s casualties so far this year. Last year, such attacks accounted for 6 percent of ISAF’s casualties. In 2010, green-on-blue attacks made up just 2 percent of ISAF’s casualties. See LWJ report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data, for more information.
A significant number of the insider attacks have taken place in Helmand province, according to statistics maintained by The Long War Journal. More green-on-blue attacks have occurred in Helmand province than in any other of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. At least 18 of the 69 recorded attacks have taken place in Helmand since January 2008; and 33 of the 123 deaths have occurred in the province.
Insider attacks a key part of Taliban strategy
Today’s attack comes three weeks after Taliban emir Mullah Omar released an Eid al-Adha message that urged followers to “[i]increase Increase your efforts to expand the area of infiltration in the ranks of the enemy and to bring about better order and array in the work.” The statement continued: “We call on the Afghans who still stand with the stooge regime to turn to full-fledged cooperation with their Mujahid people like courageous persons in order to protect national interests and to complete independence of the country. Jihadic activities inside the circle of the State militias are the most effective stratagem. Its dimension will see further expansion, organization and efficiency if God willing.”
Omar had previously addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks at length in a statement released on Aug. 16. Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]
As insider attacks continue to spike, Coalition officials are starting to acknowledge that the Taliban are behind a larger proportion of the attacks, and ISAF has intensified its efforts against the perpetrators. Many of the attackers appear to come from the eastern Afghan provinces, a BBC reporter wrote in September, where Taliban influence is prevalent. And in early October, ISAF commanders admitted that attackers from Pakistan with links to the Taliban and its subgroup, the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network, were significantly involved in the attacks, the Associated Press reported.