Since the latest green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan on Oct. 26, reports have emerged indicating that the attack took place near a new British-Afghan training facility in Qargha, about 10 miles west of Kabul. The National Army Officers’ Academy, nicknamed “Sandhurst in the Sand,” opens officially tomorrow, and will be Britain’s only military facility in Afghanistan once UK troops depart in 2014.
More detail has also surfaced about the attack itself, which resulted in the death of an Afghan soldier and the wounding of two Coalition troops, one from Australia and the other from New Zealand.
The incident took place at a perimeter checkpoint, and arose after an Afghan soldier manning it had confiscated a laptop from a driver, the BBC reported. When the Australian and New Zealander troops tried to take the computer back from the Afghan soldier, an argument erupted. The Coalition troops reportedly swore at the Afghan and he opened fire on them, wounding two before he was shot and killed in return fire.
The Guardian offered a slightly different version of the story, quoting an Afghan official who said the incident occurred not at the new training center but inside one of the nearby quarters of the Afghan National Army. According to The Guardian, the Afghan soldier was killed several minutes after a skirmish broke out between him and a trainer from New Zealand and two Australian soldiers assigned to guard the trainer; all three were said to be injured.
The Guardian also reported that the Taliban issued a statement denying responsibility for the attack. The Taliban have frequently claimed such attacks in the past and have made them a part of their overall strategy in Afghanistan.
A statement by the Australian Defence Ministry said the attack occurred when an Afghan soldier fired at the Coalition troops as they were leaving an Afghan National Army compound. “The Australian and New Zealand force elements have commenced discussions with the dead Afghan soldier’s unit to determine the cause for the attack,” it continued. The Ministry also said the wounded Australian soldier, a member of the Australian Force Protection element assigned to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, has returned to duty.
In a statement issued yesterday, New Zealand Defense Force chief Rhys Jones said there had been no tensions before the incident, TVNZ reported. He also said, however, that the New Zealander, a member of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy support team, had been involved in retrieving equipment stolen from the base. New Zealand authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.