Coalition forces in Afghanistan have come under attack from Afghan security personnel for the fifth time in the past week. Two soldiers were wounded in the latest attack green-on-blue attack (when an Afghan soldier or policeman attacks an ISAF personnel), which took place in Nangarhar province. From AFP:
An Afghan policeman wounded at least two foreign soldiers when he opened fire on troops from the US-led NATO mission on Monday, officials said, adding to a spike in such attacks.
The shooting took place in Achin, a remote district in the eastern province of Nangarhar, local police chief Abdullah Azim Stanikzai told AFP. NATO confirmed the incident but gave no details…
Stanikzai said the policeman had just returned from leave.
“He was on vacation but had just returned to duty. He grabbed a weapon from a colleague and opened fire,” he added. He said a hunt to arrest him was under way.
An Isaf spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Hagen Messer, said “a man wearing civilian clothes fired at ISAF-ANSF troops”, using the acronym for Afghan security forces.
“The shooter was a member of the Afghan uniform police,” Messer said, confirming the injuries.
The Taliban released a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad, claiming credit for the attack. The Taliban named the policeman and said that three Western troops were killed and four more were wounded (the Taliban routinely exaggerate the effects of their attacks). The statement is reproduced below, in full:
Officials reporting from Achin district of Nangarhar province say that at around 12:00 pm today, an infiltrator Mujahid turned his gun on American terrorists in the district headquarters.
The attack happened as the invaders were holding a meeting with puppet officials inside the district center when the Afghan Mujahid police officer (Sher Ali, the son of Ismael) opened fire with a Pk machine gun, leaving 3 invaders dead and 4 others severely wounded including the district NDS director.
The brave hero left the headquarters after the successful attack and joined up with Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate in the district.
Officials added that Sher Ali was in contact with Mujahideen for a long period of time and finally carried out the attack today using an opportune time.
It is worth reminding that such attacks have picked up steam lately and this is the fifth attack by infiltrators on foreign troops in the past week which has left dozens of invaders dead.
The Taliban have seized on the green-on-blue attacks in their propaganda. Last week, the Taliban released a video of two Afghan soldiers who attacked ISAF soldiers in Kunar and Uruzgan [see Threat Matrix report, Observations on Taliban video ‘welcoming’ rogue ANA soldiers].
Background on green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan
Green-on-blue attacks have spiked this year. Of the 99 ISAF soldiers believed to have been killed by Afghan security personnel since May 2007, a total of 37, or more than 33 percent, were killed this year. [Note: LWJ‘s previous estimate was 34 ISAF soldiers killed; this weekend ISAF said that 37 have been killed so far this year.] These attacks have taken place in all areas in Afghanistan, not just in the south and east.
So far this year, green-on-blue attacks have caused nearly 13 percent of the ISAF deaths; 289 Coalition soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to iCasualties.org.
Over the past week, there have been five green-on-blue attacks against ISAF troops, counting today’s attack. In the preceding four attacks, seven US soldiers have been killed. On Aug. 7, two Afghan soldiers killed a US soldier in the east before defecting to the Taliban. On Aug. 9, US troops killed an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Laghman province. And on Aug. 10, six US soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in Garmsir and Sangin districts in Helmand province.
Last month, three green-on-blue attacks were reported. Although as a matter of policy ISAF does not report on attacks that do not result in deaths, this trend seems to be changing, as two of the three attacks reported last month involved situations in which soldiers were wounded but not killed. On July 1, three British military advisers were killed by an Afghan policeman in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Four days later, on July 5, five ISAF personnel were wounded in an attack in Wardak province. And on July 23, two more ISAF soldiers were wounded in an attack in Faryab province.
In May of this year, ISAF commander General John Allen said that about half of the green-on-blue attacks have been carried out by Taliban infiltrators. The Taliban routinely take credit for these attacks.
The rise in attacks against ISAF troops by Afghan personnel takes place as ISAF is seeking to accelerate the transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces. The plan calls for an increase in the number of ISAF trainers as well as more partnering of ISAF and Afghan units, and will heighten Coalition troops’ exposure to green-on-blue attacks.
The US military has become so concerned with the green-on-blue attacks that it has ordered units to designate “guardian angels” in each unit whose job is to provide security for troops working with Afghans. But the attacks have not abated.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.