ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on U.S. soldiers and personnel in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday and killed two American servicemen and an American civilian, the latest in a string of so-called insider attacks in which Afghan soldiers or police turn their weapons on U.S.-led coalition personnel.
The shooting occurred at an Afghan army base in Paktika province, a volatile region along the Pakistani border. Officials with the Paktika governor’s office told the Associated Press that an argument between an Afghan soldier and U.S. troops at the base precipitated the shooting. NATO released a statement saying two American servicemen and an American civilian died in the attack, but did not release further details.
Insider attacks rose dramatically last year, when 61 members of the U.S.-led coalition were killed by members of Afghan security forces. However, the rate of such attacks has fallen off so far this year, with five insider shootings that have killed eight U.S. coalition troops and an American contractor.
U.S. commanders took several steps to reduce the rise in insider attacks last year, including the deployment of armed soldiers to watch for trouble when American servicemen interacted with their Afghan counterparts, and the placement of barriers between U.S. troops and Afghan security forces at bases that they share. The Afghan Taliban contends many of the attacks are carried out by insurgents that they have infiltrated into Afghan army and police units. However, NATO officials reject that claim, saying many of the attacks have been caused by personal disputes.