KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — An Afghan policeman opened fire and threw a hand grenade at a U.S. military patrol in eastern Afghanistan, killing an American soldier and raising fears that insurgents have infiltrated the police force, officials said Thursday.
Also, an airstrike by foreign troops in the southern province of Helmand killed several women and children, a provincial police chief said. Troops led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said in a statement that they were aware of an airstrike in Nad Ali district but were "unable to confirm any civilian casualties."
The attack on the Americans came as a foot patrol was returning to a base in the Bermel district of Paktika province. A police officer on a tower attacked the patrol, the U.S. military said, and the troops returned fire, killing the man.
It was the second attack on U.S. soldiers by an Afghan policeman in less than a month. Militants have disguised themselves in police and army uniforms when conducting attacks on Afghan and foreign troops, but the two incidents involved actual policemen.
Training of the Afghan police force and national army are key elements in the U.S. strategy of dealing with the Taliban-led insurgency, which has spread in many parts of the country.
Last month, an officer opened fire on U.S. troops at a police station in Paktia province, north of Paktika, killing a soldier and wounding three. U.S. forces then killed the policeman.
Both provinces, which border Pakistan, experience many clashes between U.S. troops and insurgents.