ISLAMABAD - A man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire on U.S. soldiers and personnel in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing two American servicemen and an American civilian. It was the latest in a string of insider attacks in which Afghan soldiers or police turn their weapons on U.S.-led coalition forces.
The shooting occurred at an Afghan army base in Paktika province, a volatile region along the Pakistani border. Officials with the Paktika governor's office said an argument between an Afghan soldier and U.S. troops at the base precipitated the shootings. NATO released a statement saying two American servicemen and an American civilian died, but provided no further details.
Insider attacks rose dramatically last year, when 61 members of the U.S.-led coalition were killed by members of Afghan security forces. The rate of such attacks has fallen off so far this year.
U.S. commanders took several steps to reduce the rise in insider attacks last year, including the deployment of armed soldiers to watch for trouble when American service members interacted with their Afghan counterparts, and the placement of barriers between U.S. troops and Afghan security forces at bases that they share.
The Afghan Taliban contends many of the attacks are carried out by insurgents who have infiltrated the Afghan army and police units. However, NATO officials reject that claim, saying many of the incidents have resulted from personal disputes.
Elsewhere in Afghani-stan on Saturday, an insurgent attacked an armored vehicle carrying Italian soldiers in the western province of Farah, killing one of the troops and injuring three others, the Italian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The ministry did not release details of the attack, but The Associated Press reported that an attacker approached the vehicle while it was slowed by traffic and lobbed explosives at it.
Italy has 4,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan but plans to withdraw its forces by the end of 2014. So far, at least 53 Italian troops have been killed in the 11-year conflict.
U.S. Toll in Afghanistan
Source: Department of Defense