10 NATO Troops Killed In Afghanistan In 24 Hours

By Salon Staff

Published January 20, 2012 10:36AM (EST)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan soldier shot and killed four French troops Friday in eastern Afghanistan and a helicopter crash killed six more NATO service members in the south, officials said, marking a particularly deadly 24 hours for coalition forces.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that France is suspending its training programs for Afghan troops after the killings, which he announced in a speech after the U.S.-led coalition said an Afghan soldier shot and killed four NATO troops.

Sarkozy said it was "unacceptable" that Afghan troops would attack French soldiers. He said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is heading to Afghanistan after the attack, which is among the most deadly for French forces in the 10 years they have been serving in the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan.

NATO said in statements that the Afghan shooter had been apprehended, but it disclosed no other details about the incident.

It appeared to be the second time in a month that an Afghan soldier has attacked French forces. On Dec. 29, a soldier in the Afghan National Army opened fire and killed two members of the 2nd regiment of the Foreign Legion. French forces fired back and killed the assailant.

Similar attacks have raised fears of increased Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army as NATO speeds up the training of the security forces. In some cases the attackers were Afghan soldiers who turned on NATO troops. Others involved insurgents dressed in Afghan uniforms.

Earlier this month, a U.S. service member was killed when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire at a base in the south of the country.

Afghan security forces or insurgents dressed in their uniforms have attacked and killed international troops or civilian trainers more than a dozen times in the past two years, according to an Associated Press count.

In one of the worst incidents, a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire at Kabul airport on April 27, 2011, killing eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings Jr., a spokesman for the coalition, said Friday that cases where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed coalition forces are isolated cases and do not occur on a routine basis. "We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships," he said.

Late Thursday, a NATO helicopter crashed, killing six members of the international military force.

The cause is still being investigated, but a coalition statement said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef claimed insurgents shot down the helicopter, a Chinook, in Musa Qala district of Helmand province, killing all on board.

The coalition did not disclose the nationalities of those killed and would not release details of the crash until the families of the dead were notified.

It was the deadliest crash in Afghanistan since August, when 30 American troops died after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country.

Salon Staff

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