In an incident being described variously as an insider attack and an “accident,” an Afghan security force member opened fire on International Security Assistance Force troops at Kandahar Airfield this morning, killing one and wounding at least two more.
Initial reports indicated that American troops had been targeted. Gen. Abdur Raziq Sherzai, a commander of the Afghan National Army’s 20th Atal Corps, told Pajhwok Afghan News that a “rogue soldier” from Laghman province who had joined the ANA two years ago fired at US troops at the airfield and wounded three US troops. Sherzai said the attacker had been arrested and was being interrogated. According to the Javed Faisal, spokesman for the provincial governor, the shooting occurred after a “verbal clash.”
An account by Khaama Press stated that “at least three” Czech soldiers were wounded in the attack, which occurred as they were “crossing the area.” The Khaama report said the attacker belonged to an air force brigade.
A subsequent report by the Associated Press indicates that the injured soldiers were from Slovakia, which guards the Kandahar Airfield base. According to the AP report, gubernatorial spokesman Faisal claimed that a preliminary investigation indicated the shooting was an “accident” rather than an insider attack.
According to ISAF, one soldier was killed in the attack today. The ISAF statement said that one ISAF member “died when an individual wearing an Afghan National Security Force uniform fired his weapon at ISAF individuals in southern Afghanistan today.”
Slovakia’s Defense Minister, Martin Glvac, later confirmed that one Slovak soldier was killed, two seriously injured, and four more lightly injured, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. The attacker was a disgruntled Afghan soldier named Lamber Khan, the New York Times reported.
Just yesterday, ISAF formally turned over security responsibility for Regional Command South to Afghan forces, in a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield. ISAF and Afghan military officials in Kandahar announced that Afghan National Security Forces were now strong enough to repel Taliban attempts to take over districts in southern Afghanistan, TOLONews reported. Gen. Abdul Majid, the Commander of the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 205 ATAL, claimed that Taliban forces had recently tried to occupy some districts of southern Afghanistan but had been thwarted by security forces.
“Thousands of Taliban insurgents came from neighbouring countries and failed. The Quetta Council had decided that the Taliban should have one district of each province under its control. But they failed in their attempt,” he said.
Today’s attack is the eighth green-on-blue attack so far this year in Afghanistan, and the first this year in Kandahar province. [See LWJ Special Report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.] The overall number of such attacks, in which Afghan forces turn on their Coalition counterparts, is down so far this year from a peak in 2012, when green-on-blue attacks accounted for 15% of total Coalition casualties. This year, there have been eight deaths from green-on-blue attacks, accounting for 8% of Coalition casualties. The downturn is likely due to reduced partnering between Afghan and Coalition forces as greater security responsibility is turned over to the Afghans.
As the time for the withdrawal of all US combat forces in 2014 approaches, the Obama administration and the Karzai government are finding themselves increasingly at odds over long-term security plans for Afghanistan. President Karzai recently repudiated peace talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar, claiming they left Afghanistan out of the equation. The New York Times reported today that President Obama, in turn, is said to be giving new consideration to the “zero option” in Afghanistan, in which no US troops will be left in the country to help maintain stability after 2014.