Afghan National Army soldiers on guard in Laghman province. (AFP)
Lashkar Ghar (Afghanistan), Aug. 10 (Agencies): An Afghan police commander and several of his men killed three US Marines in the southern province of Helmand, turning guns on them after inviting them to a dinner to discuss security, Afghan officials said today.
The men were all Marine Corps special operations forces and were killed last night while attending a meeting in the Sarwan Qala area, in what appeared to be a planned attack by rogue Afghan forces.
“During dinner, the police commander and his colleagues shot them and then fled.
The commander was Afghan National Police in charge of local police in Sangin,” a senior Afghan official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Sangin is a district.
“It looks like he had drawn up a plan to kill them previously,” the official said.
A spokeswoman for Nato-led forces in the country confirmed the incident but said it was too early to say whether it was a rogue shooting or due to insurgent infiltration. “All we know is that they were killed by an Afghan in a uniform of some sort,” the spokeswoman said.
The Pentagon said later the slain servicemen were Marine Corps special operations forces, but it was unable to confirm other details of the shooting.
So-called green on blue shootings, in which Afghan police or soldiers turn their guns on their western colleagues, have seriously eroded trust between the allies as Nato combat soldiers prepare to hand over to Afghan forces by 2014, after which most foreign forces will leave the country.
Nato says there have been 24 such attacks on foreign troops since January in which 28 people have been killed, not including yesterday’s attack. Last year there were 21 attacks in which 35 people were killed.
Another foreign soldier was killed in the south today during an insurgent attack, Nato said, while seven civilians were killed and three were wounded by an insurgent roadside bomb, also in Helmand.
In a grim 24 hours for the Nato-led force, three US soldiers and an American aid worker were killed earlier yesterday in the eastern province of Kunar in an attack by a suicide bomber. Last year, a US Army team led by a behavioural scientist produced a 70-page survey that revealed both Afghan and American soldiers hold disturbingly negative perceptions of the other.
According to the survey, many Afghan security personnel found US troops “extremely arrogant, bullying and unwilling to listen to their advice” and sometimes lacking concern about Afghans’ safety in combat. They accused the Americans of ignoring female privacy and using denigrating names for Afghans.
American troops, in turn, often accused Afghan troops and police of “pervasive illicit drug use, massive thievery, personal instability, dishonesty, no integrity”,the survey said.
US military officials have downplayed that survey.
The US hopes the Afghan Local Police, a village defence force backed by the national government, will become a key force in fighting the insurgency.
Just last month, a coalition statement touted the Marines’s work training the Afghan Local Police in Sangin, describing a new academy in an Afghan National Police compound near a Marines base.
“During the three-week course, future police train in the basics of patrolling, vehicle and personnel searches, checkpoints, escalation of force, detainee procedures, marksmanship and Afghan law,” the statement said.
“After completing training, the new ALP are stationed at patrol bases in their hometowns.”
Meanwhile Friday, Britain said one of its soldiers died the previous day from wounds he received in a shooting while on patrol in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province. Nineteen coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan this month.