An Afghan police commander and his men invited at least three U.S. Special Forces soldiers to dinner Thursday to discuss security, and killed them in an apparent ambush.Abdul Malik at Reuters reports the police had drawn up a plan to kill the soldiers, shot them, and then fled.
This may be one of the most striking of what are called “green on blue” shootings, when the Afghans who Americans are tasked to train turn their weapons and target U.S. troops.
There have been about 28 such attacks this year killing 34 coalition troops, following 35 killed in 21 attacks in 2011.
Matthew Rosenberg at The New York Times reports the meal was at an outpost and says the number of U.S. troops killed may actually be four.
Rosenberg also mentions that at least one of the Afghan officers had been working with the Special Forces troops for four years, and that shootings like this may arise from personal disputes, not Taliban infiltration.
But the Los Angeles Times reports that is not the case in this incident, as the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killings, and say the gunmen have defected to the insurgency.
The LA Times goes on to say that the Taliban are calling the police commander a “hero” who brought the militant group his store of weapons, as well.
Special Forces (SOF) soldiers are commonly used in Afghanistan to train local police. It’s a procedure meant to lower the attrition rate of the police force and establish long-term relationships with local law enforcement.
This is part of a wider U.S. policy that calls for more SOF troops on the ground in Afghanistan as ground troops prepare for withdrawal in 2014.
There is speculation this plan is in response to the deteriorating situation in Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal, but there is no confirmation on this from the Pentagon.
Either way the manoeuvre will leave U.S. soldiers, like these that were killed yesterday, on the ground in Afghanistan well beyond 2014.
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