Two U.S. special forces personnel were killed Monday in a so-called "insider attack" in Afghanistan — shattering a lull in Afghan security forces firing on their American allies this year.
Abdul Razaq Koraishi, a Warnak province deputy police chief, said one of his men stood up in a truck, grabbed a machine gun and fired on Americans as well as his law enforcement colleagues. The officer killed two Afghan policemen and wounded several others before being killed in a fierce firefight, the Associated Press reported.
The attack came the day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai befuddled U.S. officials by accusing them of conspiring with the Taliban to stage two recent suicide bombings.
Monday's fatalities mark the third insider attack this year, well behind the pace of 2012, when 47 attacks killed 61 NATO personnel, most of them Americans.
On Friday, an Afghan soldier opened fire on Americans, injuring four, and a U.S. soldier was killed in such an attack in January.
The NATO command in Kabul is bracing for an uptick in assaults now that the Taliban's "fighting season" is beginning. The command last year instituted an eight-step screening process designed to find any ties between recruits and insurgents. Officials are putting much trust in village elders to vouch for would-be members of the Afghan National Security Force, which includes national police and the army. The command says it arrested hundreds of personnel linked to insurgents.
The emphasis on weeding out traitors shows the degree to which the enemy tactic is destroying trust between Afghans and Americans.
"Insider attacks were the most effective innovation in tactics employed by the Taliban over the course of the entire war," an active-duty Army officer told The Washington Times.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials denied Mr. Karsai's charge of U.S.-Taliban collaboration.
"It's categorically false," Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Afghanistan.
"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years," Gen. Dunford said. "We have shed too much blood over the past 12 years. We have done too much to help the Afghan security forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage."
U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham issued a statement: "The thought that we would collude with the Taliban flies in the face of everything we have done here and is absolutely without foundation. It is inconceivable that we would spend the lives of America's sons, daughters, and our treasure, in helping Afghans to secure and rebuild their country, and at the same time be engaged in endangering Afghanistan or its citizens."
Gen. Dunford said that Mr. Karzai "has never said to me that the United States was colluding with the Taliban. So I don't know what caused him to say that today."
The general said there has been "some tension" in honoring Afghanistan's sovereignty as U.S. troops occupy territory, make combat decisions and guide Afghans into battle.
"So this is really what we're trying to do is we're trying to balance the needs of the campaign with Afghan sovereignty," he said. "And increasingly we are moving towards Afghan sovereignty, and that's what President Karzai is focused on. That's what he believes the Afghan people need, deserve."
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