Third Afghan insider’ attack leaves 4 U.S. troops dead
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan police killed four American soldiers coming to their aid after a checkpoint attack Sunday, the third “insider” assault by government forces or insurgents disguised in military uniforms in as many days.
The escalating violence — including a NATO airstrike that killed eight Afghan women and girls gathering firewood in a remote part of the country — strained the military partnership between Kabul and NATO as the U.S. begins to withdraw thousands of troops sent three years ago to route the Taliban from southern strongholds.
So far this year, 51 international service members have died at the hands of Afghan soldiers or policemen or insurgents wearing their uniforms. At least 12 such attacks came in August alone, leaving 15 dead.
The surge in insider attacks is a sign of how security has deteriorated as NATO prepares its military exit from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The U.S. is days away from completing the first stage of its own drawdown, withdrawing 33,000 troops that were part of a military surge three years ago. The U.S. will remain with about 68,000 troops at the end of September.
The airstrike that killed the eight women and girls, meanwhile, drew an apology from the U.S.-led coalition, condemnation from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and cries of “Death to America!” from villagers who retrieved the bodies.