The shooting deaths of two American soldiers in Kabul by an Afghan colleague are under investigation, with Afghan officials are saying it was an accident. NBC's Atia Abawi reports.
An Afghan soldier shot and killed two American soldiers on Monday during a dispute in Laghman province in Afghanistan. The Afghan soldier was then shot and killed by U.S. forces.
"ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier who committed the attack,'' the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.
A senior military official in Kabul strongly disputes an Afghan military account which claims the two Americans were killed accidentally when the Afghan tripped on his weapon, which discharged and struck the U.S. servicemen. “The Afghan account is tortured beyond belief and total bull****,” the official told NBC News.
The deaths in Laghman brought the number of foreign soldiers killed this month to 12, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times on base.
The deaths also come a week after U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul to talk about rogue shootings and urge Afghan officials to take tougher preventative action.
There have been 33 insider attacks so far this year that have led to 42 coalition deaths. That is a sharp increase from 2011, when, during the whole year, 35 coalition troops were killed in such attacks, 24 of whom were American.
In all, 73 Americans have been killed by so-called “friendly forces” in the nearly 11-year war, with more than half occurring in the past eight months.
NBC's Richard Engel discusses the troop "surge" in Afghanistan – something touted as a success by the military, but questioned by many Afghans and also some in the U.S. who worry the troops will leave in 2014 with Afghanistan as a failed state.
Afghanistan's government said on Wednesday it would re-examine the files of 350,000 soldiers and police to help curb rogue shootings of NATO personnel, but accused "foreign spies" of instigating the attacks.
The killings, many of which have been claimed by the Taliban as evidence of insurgent reach and infiltration, have eroded trust between the NATO-Afghan allies and are complicating plans for transition to Afghan security within two years.
NATO commanders have played down the threat of infiltration, blaming most of the shootings on stress or personal differences between Afghans and their Western advisers that ended at the point of a gun, a frequent occurrence in Afghanistan.
But the U.S. general leading NATO forces in Afghanistan acknowledged last Thursday that the Taliban could be traced to more insider attacks than previously acknowledged, accounting for about a quarter of the cases.
The Afghan government agreed after Dempsey's visit to improve the vetting of army and police recruits by requiring stronger guarantors, a more stringent test questionnaire and biometric data on all would-be and existing personnel.
More undercover intelligence officers would be recruited and placed in Afghan security forces to keep an eye on soldiers and police, while security force members with families in neighboring countries would be heavily scrutinized for possible relations or exposure to cross-border insurgents.
But President Hamid Karzai's spokesman also said the number of attacks was also relatively small given the presence of 120,000 foreign troops among 350,000 Afghan security forces.
Reuters contributed to this report.
More world stories from NBC News:
- Botched restoration turns Spanish church into tourist attraction
- Afghan sources: Top Haqqani commander killed
- Bulldozer wrecks Sufi mosque and graves in Libya sectarian attack
- Dozens killed, hurt in Venezuela oil refinery explosion
- Syria VP Al-Sharaa appears in public, ending defection rumor