Three foreign soldiers killed by Afghan forces

Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:15pm EDT
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By Jack Kimball and Sanjeev Miglani

KABUL (Reuters) - Three foreign soldiers, including two Britons, were shot dead by Afghan security forces personnel on Monday in the latest round of so-called insider killings which have raised deep concerns about the reliability of NATO's local allies and their ability to keep the peace.

Insider attacks have mounted as tension between Afghanistan and its foreign backers rises over a series of incidents, including the burning of Korans at a NATO base and a massacre of 17 villagers for which a U.S. soldier has been charged.

U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said despite a recent spate of killings of NATO troops by Afghan soldiers, such violence was sporadic and did not "reflect any kind of broad pattern."

"We have to keep our eye on the fundamental mission here, which is to accomplish our main strategy of being able to make the transition to Afghan control and security," he told reporters en route to a defence ministers meeting in Canada.

In Monday's attacks, an Afghan army soldier killed two British soldiers at their headquarters in southern Afghanistan, Britain and NATO officials said, while a local policeman shot dead another foreign soldier in the east.

The attacks on foreign troops by Afghan security personnel have raised doubts over local forces' readiness to take over security responsibilities by the end of 2014, when most Western combat troops are to leave.

The attack on British troops took place in Lashkar Gah city in southern Helmand province, the main area of operations for British forces in Afghanistan.

"It appears that a member of the Afghan national army opened fire at the entrance gate to the British headquarters at Lashkar Gah city, killing the two British service personnel," Britain's defence secretary, Philip Hammond, told parliament in London.   Continued...

Crosses commemorating the British military casualties in Afghanistan are seen in the Field of Remembrance outside Westminster Abbey in central London November 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett