- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 22, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan government blamed foreign spy agencies for a rising number of killings in which government soldiers and policemen have gunned down their international partners, and it ordered stricter vetting of recruits and screening of those in the 350,000-member Afghan security force.

The United States had no information suggesting that the insider attacks were the work of foreign intelligence services, a senior U.S. defense official said. Instead, he said attacks typically are carried out by Afghans acting on their own, although some might have had help, on occasion, from insurgent networks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence information about the attacks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai summoned members of his national security council to the presidential palace for an unscheduled meeting to discuss cases in which members of the Afghan security forces or militants wearing their uniforms have turned their weapons on foreign troops. So far this year, there have been 32 insider attacks against coalition forces, resulting in 40 deaths, according to the NATO military alliance. Those figures are up from 21 attacks for all of 2011, with 35 killed.

“The reports presented by the security officials in this meeting blamed the infiltration by foreign spy agencies into Afghan security force ranks as responsible for the rise in the individual shootings,” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said.

He said the foreign agencies were trying to undermine confidence in the Afghan security forces.

“The investigation done so far shows there’s definite infiltration by foreign spy agencies,” Mr. Faizi told a small group of international journalists he invited to the palace to discuss the national security council meeting.

Asked if the foreign spy agencies suspected included those from neighboring countries, Mr. Faizi said, “Neighboring countries included, but I don’t want to name any country.”

In the past, intelligence agencies in neighboring Iran and Pakistan have been accused of enabling Afghan insurgents to destabilize the country.

A senior Pakistani intelligence official denied the country’s involvement in the killings. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the agency’s policy.

Iran also has denied allegations that it supports the Taliban.

The U.S.-led coalition has said that only about 10 percent of the attacks were related to infiltration by the Taliban insurgency, but that analysis was done before the latest furious spate of seven attacks in 11 days.

Mr. Faizi said an Afghan investigation into the killings revealed a strong foreign connection.

“That brings us to this conclusion that the foreign spy agencies are involved,” Mr. Faizi said.

He cited physical evidence collected from gunmen who were interrogated after some of the shootings, adding that the spy agencies apparently were using Taliban fighters or sympathizers as infiltrators.

“There are letters. There are papers that are authorizing them to do different things. There are telephone calls,” Mr. Faizi said, without disclosing details of the investigation’s findings.

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