Afghan of­fi­cial: ‘Di­rect fire’ on forces

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY SU­SAN­NAH GE­ORGE su­san­­[email protected]­ Sharif Has­san in Kabul and Dan Lamothe in Washington con­trib­uted to this re­port.

kabul — U.S. and Afghan mil­i­tary per­son­nel came un­der fire in east­ern Afghanista­n on Satur­day, an Afghan of­fi­cial said. There were no im­me­di­ate de­tails from U.S. of­fi­cials on pos­si­ble ca­su­al­ties or the cause of the fire­fight.

A state­ment from U.S. mil­i­tary spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett said the Afghan and U.S. forces were “en­gaged by di­rect fire.” He made no ref­er­ence to ca­su­al­ties in the clash in Nan­ga­har prov­ince, east of Kabul along the bor­der with Pak­istan.

“We are as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion and will pro­vide fur­ther up­dates as they be­come avail­able,” Leggett added.

Mo­ham­mad Aj­mal Omar, a mem­ber of Nan­ga­har’s pro­vin­cial coun­cil, de­scribed the shootout as a pos­si­ble in­sider at­tack. Omar, who was briefed on the in­ci­dent, said there ap­peared to be ca­su­al­ties among U.S. and Afghan per­son­nel.

In­sider at­tacks have struck both Afghan and U.S. forces in the past. The Tal­iban and fac­tions linked to the Is­lamic State also have footholds in the area.

A sec­ond Afghan of­fi­cial, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss a sen­si­tive mat­ter, said there was a clash be­tween Amer­i­can and Afghan army forces in Sherzad dis­trict in Nan­ga­har but gave no fur­ther de­tails.

Last month, a road­side bomb at­tack in Kan­da­har prov­ince killed two Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers and left two in­jured. The Tal­iban via tweet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack.

The at­tack comes as for­mal peace talks be­tween U.S. and Tal­iban ne­go­tia­tors re­main ham­pered by the on­go­ing blood­shed. U.S. ne­go­tia­tors have de­manded a re­duc­tion in vi­o­lence be­fore a deal can be signed.

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