KABUL - An Afghan soldier turned his gun on US military personnel while they were playing volleyball over the weekend at a camp in southern Afghanistan, killing one and wounding three others before being fatally shot, the Afghan police said yesterday.
It was the third time in just more than two weeks that a man wearing an Afghan Army uniform attacked NATO personnel. In the earlier cases, the Taliban claimed responsibility. There was no immediate claim in this case that the Afghan soldier had Taliban sympathies.
The attack took place Sunday afternoon in Qalat, the capital of Zabul Province. The Afghan soldier approached the volleyball game and appeared to watch the soldiers play before opening fire with an M-16 assault rifle, said Ghulam Jilani Farahi, deputy police chief of Zabul province. Another US soldier who heard the gunfire shot and killed the attacker, he said.
The coalition released a brief statement Sunday saying that a service member “was killed today in southern Afghanistan apparently by a member of the Afghan National Army.’’
Afghan soldiers have repeatedly shot their NATO counterparts in recent years, and there is widespread concern among NATO and Afghan commanders that insurgents might be infiltrating the ranks of the Afghan security forces.
Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri, the governor of Zabul Province, had a slightly different account of the number of Americans who were injured in the shooting. As well as one American who died, he said, only one US soldier was wounded.
Farahi said the police were investigating what had caused the Afghan soldier, whom he identified as Shafiullah, to open fire at the camp.
He said Shafiullah, originally from a Pashtun-dominated region of eastern Afghanistan, was a religious man who spent a lot of time in the mosque near the camp. He said the soldier and his family used to live in Quetta, Pakistan, which is where the leadership of the Taliban is believed to be located, although Quetta also has hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees with no ties to the Taliban.
In the first of the attacks last month, an Afghan soldier opened fire on US soldiers in the western province of Farah during a joint patrol. Only the Afghan soldier was killed in that attack. A few days later, a man wearing an Afghan Army uniform gunned down two members of the French Foreign Legion in the east of the country before being fatally shot.