KABUL, Afghanistan - A man in an Afghan uniform shot and killed three American troops Friday morning in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military command confirmed, the third attack on coalition forces by their Afghan counterparts in a week.
So far this year, at least 21 similar attacks, in which Afghan forces or insurgents disguised in Afghan uniforms have turned their guns on international troops, have killed 30 coalition service members, according to an Associated Press tally.
The victims are described by the Pentagon as Marines working in special operations.
The assaults on coalition forces by the soldiers and police they are training raise doubts about relations with Afghans more than 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple the Taliban's hardline Islamist regime for sheltering the al-Qaeda leadership. The attacks also call into question the quality of the Afghan forces taking over in many areas across the country, in preparation for the departure of most international troops in 2014.
Friday's shooting took place in Sangin district of Helmand province, said U.S. military spokeswoman Maj. Lori Hodge. She gave no further details and said the military were investigating.
Exactly what happened in the attack was unclear, and there were conflicting accounts. Sangin Gov. Mohammad Sharif said the shooting happened at a police checkpoint after a joint meal and a security meeting, but an Afghan army commander, Farooq Parwani, said that the attack happened on a U.S. base.
The U.S. military said it was also not clear whether the attacker wore an Afghan army or police uniform.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said by telephone that the attacker, whom he identified as a member of Helmand police named Asadullah, had joined the insurgency after his attack. Ahmadi said the man had been helping U.S. forces train the Afghan Local Police troops.
"Now, he is with us," Ahmadi said.
The U.S. is hoping the Afghan Local Police will be a key force to fight the insurgency after most international troops withdraw.
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