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KABUL - A man wearing an Afghan Army uniform fatally shot an American service member in southern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, the latest in a string of attacks against US and other foreign forces by their Afghan partners or insurgents in disguise.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 16 such attacks against American and other international troops. The shootings have strained US-Afghan ties already suffering from a lack of trust following the Koran burnings at a US base and the alleged killing spree by an American soldier in the south in recent months.

Relations appeared to be shifting back on track with Washington and Kabul agreeing to a long-awaited deal this week on a strategic pact to govern the US presence in Afghanistan till 2024.

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The attack took place late Wednesday when the shooter turned his weapon on coalition troops and opened fire, the US military said in a statement. International forces returned fire, killing the assailant, the statement said without providing further details.

A senior US defense official said the coalition member killed was an American.

It is possible the attacker was an insurgent disguised in an Afghan Army uniform and not an actual member of the Afghan security forces. Such uniforms are easily available in markets in Afghanistan and the Taliban have used them to mount previous attacks.

Since 2007, more than 80 NATO service members have been killed by Afghan security forces, according to an Associated Press tally, which is based on Pentagon figures released in February.