Man in Afghan Uniform Kills NATO Service Members

Posted March 26th, 2012 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
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NATO officials say a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on coalition forces in southern Afghanistan Monday, killing two service members.

Officials say the coalition returned fire, killing the attacker at a NATO base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand province around midday. A joint Afghan-ISAF team is investigating the incident.

Authorities have not identified the shooter, and NATO has not formally released the nationalities of the dead service members. However, the Associated Press reports that the two service members were British soldiers.

In a statement, Helmand's governor strongly condemned the incident, offering sympathy to the victims' families and praising the sacrifices of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials say there have been at least 42 attacks by Afghans on their NATO colleagues since 2007.

The attack comes two weeks after a U.S. soldier allegedly went on a shooting spree in Afghanistan, further straining relations between Afghans and NATO forces.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, an 11-year military veteran, faces charges that include 17 counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder. He is alleged to have walked out of his southern Afghanistan military base under the cover of darkness March 11, gunning down nine children and eight adults in nearby villages.

The New York Times quoted Kandahar's police chief Monday as saying the U.S. military charged Bales with the murder for the death of the unborn baby of one of the victims. That would explain the ongoing discrepancy between American and Afghan officials over whether Bales allegedly had kill 17 civilians or 16, which is the original figure the Afghan government maintains.

The Kandahar media office responded to the report with several messages on Twitter, saying the police chief quoted in the article strongly denies the story. The office said the U.S. media report wrongly quoted him and that he has not confirmed 17 dead.