Afghan policeman kills 2 British soldiers in Helmand

An Afghan policeman killed two British soldiers and wounded four more today before being killed himself in return fire in the southern province of Helmand. The attack is the latest in the long string of so-called green-on-blue incidents, or insider attacks, in which Afghan security personnel have killed or wounded members of the International Security Assistance Force. There have been nearly 60 such attacks reported since 2008.

“An individual believed to be an Afghan Local Police member turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing two,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. “An ISAF service member returned fire, killing the attacker.”

ISAF did not state the nationality of the soldiers who were killed, but TOLONews reported that the troops were British. The attack took place in the Gereshk district.

At the beginning of September, training for more than 1,000 new recruits for the Afghan Local Police was suspended by the US’s Special Operations Command after five of its soldiers were killed over the course of a week in August. The Afghan Local Police force is an initiative that provides support to Afghans so they can provide security for their own villages. The ALP have been described as vital to ISAF’s strategy. The ALP are to provide security in key districts as foreign troops continue withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Today’s green-on-blue attack, or insider attack, as ISAF has begun calling them, occurred close to Camp Bastion, where the Taliban executed a suicide assault last evening. A team of 20 jihadists penetrated the perimeter of Camp Bastion, killed two US Marines, and damaged several military aircraft, a hangar, and buildings.

Camp Bastion was also the scene of a green-on-blue attack in March, when an Afghan interpreter hijacked an SUV and then attempted to run down a group of US Marines, including a major general, at the airfield. The attack took place just before Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s plane was scheduled to land. The attacker crashed his truck and then set himself on fire; the attacker’s brother and father, also interpreters, were both detained, as was another person also said to be an interpreter. One British soldier was wounded during the attack.

The last green-on-blue attack took place on Aug. 28 on a base in neighboring Uruzgan province. An Afghan soldier gunned down three Australian soldiers and wounded two more. The attacker, a recent recruit named as Sergeant Hikmatullah, climbed over the base’s fence after the attack and ran away.

Helmand province has seen the greatest number of green-on-blue attacks. Of the 58 reported attacks since 2008 in Afghanistan, 16, or 28%, have occurred in Helmand. A significant number of green-on-blue attacks have also taken place in Kandahar province, where there have been nine attacks, or nearly 16% of the total number.

Background on green-on-blue attacks

Attacks by Afghan forces on Coalition forces have skyrocketed this year. In the first eight months of this year, the number of green-on-blue attacks (30) has more than doubled last year’s total of 14.

Attacks that resulted in deaths of ISAF troops have also surged; they account for 14% of Coalition casualties so far this year. In 2011, green-on-blue attacks accounted for 6%; in 2010, 3%; in 2009, 2%; and in 2008, less than 1%. [For more details and statistics on the green-on-blue attacks, see LWJ Special Report, Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data.]

ISAF commanders have insisted that most of the attacks are due to cultural differences between Afghan and Western troops. General John Allen, the commander of ISAF, even blamed the spike on Afghans being hungry and irritable due to fasting during Ramadan.

In seeking to account for the rise in insider attacks, ISAF commanders have downplayed the role of Taliban infiltration. Commanders have issued conflicting estimates of the percentage of attacks caused by Taliban infiltration and coercion, ranging from 10% to 25% in recent weeks, to 50% earlier this year.

The Taliban have seized on the green-on-blue attacks in their propaganda, and routinely claim each attack to be a result of infiltration. In early August, 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].

Mullah Omar, the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, or the Taliban, addressed the issue of green-on-blue attacks in a statement released on Aug. 16. Omar claimed that the Taliban “cleverly infiltrated in the ranks of the enemy according to the plan given to them last year,” and urged government officials and security personnel to defect and join the Taliban as a matter of religious duty. He also noted that the Taliban have created the “Call and Guidance, Luring and Integration” department, “with branches … now operational all over the country,” to encourage defections. [See Threat Matrix report, Mullah Omar addresses green-on-blue attacks.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Bilal says:

    Perhaps about time the West realizes it has lost the battle for hearts and minds in the Muslim world. Speech which is ‘free’ to insult religions, but ‘criminal’ to deny the Holocaust (or promoting ‘violent jihad’ on the internet) is a charade which does not take a rocket scientist to understand. Go home, or be buried in the graveyard of Empires: Afghanistan.

  • mike merlo says:

    so does this mean the assault on Camp Bastion had ‘inside’ help/assistance?

  • Tombone says:

    RIP. That is 9 deaths this year alone at the hands of our “Afghan Partners”

  • akhada says:

    it’s time to retreat for america..even your allies (afghan national soldier & police) don’t like you….

  • Lisa Lundquist says:

    Tombone —
    Not sure what you mean. According to LWJ stats, there have been 47 green-on-blue casualties in Afghanistan so far in 2012; and 17 of them have occurred in Helmand.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    The “graveyard of Empires” assertion is often put forth by keyboard Islamists such as yourself to scare westerners into supporting an early withdrawal, but the current ethnic and tribal composition of Afghanistan is BECAUSE of empirical domination and colonization.
    I suggest you read up on that and educate yourself about real history rather than being the mouthpiece for radical Arabs who (with Gulf funding) want to use Afghanistan and it’s uneducated people and harsh terrain as a base to launch terror attacks across the world.
    Now, when it comes to this:
    “Perhaps about time the West realizes it has lost the battle for hearts and minds in the Muslim world.”
    That’s because the counter-insurgency strategy in my view would never have worked from the start. The Afghan population is not compatible with that type of strategy. When the counter-terrorism strategy was used in Afghanistan from 2001-2005, the Taliban ran into Pakistan with their tails between their legs. That’s because the RoE were less strict, and the troops didn’t waste time interacting with locals; they looked for the enemy, and they took them out.
    “Speech which is ‘free’ to insult religions, but ‘criminal’ to deny the Holocaust (or promoting ‘violent jihad’ on the internet) is a charade which does not take a rocket scientist to understand. ”
    Ahhh Bilal, try not to get too much ahead of yourself. It’s perfectly within someone’s right to criticize *any* religion on the planet, as long as it does not advocate genocide or murder. ‘Violent jihad’, as you described on the other hand, DOES advocate genocide, murder, and sabotage, and thus it is perfectly in line to be censored. The Internet was originally made to freely share ideas, not see a bunch of barbarians behead someone and yell “Allahu Akbar” 100 times in a video. My words might offend you but it’s just the way it is, and if you can’t accept that then I suggest you unplug your computer and go find something else to do. If you can make veiled threats and spew Islamist hatred all over the web, then I can debunk your assertions in a not-so-nice-way. And, people can make videos insulting your religion. Deal with it!

  • Šťoural says:

    It is very successful raid.Killing two American Marines, wounding nine other people and destroying six Harrier.
    R.I.P. marines,
    and congratulation Taliban commander.


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