Afghan sol­dier fa­tally shoots 3 U.S. troops

A fourth is wounded in this year’s sec­ond ‘in­sider at­tack.’ The shooter is killed.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Sul­tan Faizy and W.J. Hen­ni­gan wil­liam.hen­ni­gan @la­times.com Faizy is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers were killed and another wounded Sat­ur­day when an Afghan sol­dier opened fire on them in the coun­try’s eastern Nan­garhar prov­ince, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

A lo­cal Afghan of­fi­cial had said ear­lier Sat­ur­day that two U.S. sol­diers were killed and two oth­ers wounded dur­ing the at­tack in Achin district, where U.S. Army spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces have been fight­ing with the Afghan mil­i­tary against Is­lamic State-af­fil­i­ated mil­i­tants. The death toll later rose to three, with one in­jured.

In a state­ment, the Pen­tagon said the wounded sol­dier had been evac­u­ated for treat­ment and the in­ci­dent was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The so-called in­sider at­tack was the sec­ond of its kind this year. Afghan troops and U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions forces have been locked in com­bat with an Is­lamic State-af­fil­i­ated mil­i­tant group for months in Nan­garhar.

Is­mail Shin­wari, a district gover­nor in Achin, said the in­ci­dent hap­pened in the Pekha Val­ley re­gion. He said it was an ac­tive com­bat zone, keep­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the area.

It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear if the shoot­ing in­volved a ji­hadist sym­pa­thizer, a per­sonal dis­pute or a cul­tural mis­un­der­stand­ing. But the Afghan Tal­iban claimed that one of its mem­bers had in­fil­trated Afghan forces, opened fire on U.S. troops and killed four in Nan­garhar prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to the pri­vate SITE In­tel­li­gence Group.

The shooter was killed im­me­di­ately.

“The in­fil­tra­tor was killed by other Afghan sol­diers on the ground,” read a state­ment from the Tal­iban.

In March, an Afghan sol­dier was killed af­ter he fired on U.S. forces at a base in Hel­mand prov­ince, wound­ing three Amer­i­cans.

Since 2008, there have been more than 90 in­sider at­tacks in Afghanistan, with at least 150 for­eign sol­diers killed and 187 wounded, ac­cord­ing to the Long War Jour­nal blog.

The deadly shoot­ing comes as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion weighs deeper in­volve­ment in the coun­try af­ter 16 years of war.

The U.S. has 8,400 troops de­ployed in Afghanistan to train and ad­vise Afghan forces; most rarely par­tic­i­pate in di­rect com­bat.

Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the top U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der in Afghanistan, wants 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to help train Afghanistan’s mil­i­tary and po­lice forces as they bat­tle Tal­iban in­sur­gents, Is­lamic State mil­i­tants and other mili­tias, U.S. of­fi­cials say.

Six U.S. ser­vice mem­bers now have been killed in Afghanistan this year. Three sol­diers were killed pre­vi­ously, fight­ing an Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate in Nan­garhar. All were mem­bers of U.S. Army spe­cial op­er­a­tions.

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