Afghan Police Officer Turns Gun on American Soldiers, Killing 2
By ROD NORDLAND
KABUL, Afghanistan — Two American soldiers were shot to death by an Afghan police officer on Monday in northern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said. It was at least the third time this year that Afghan security personnel had turned on coalition soldiers.
The incident came after three days of anti-American protests, which claimed at least 24 lives, set off by the burning of a Koran at a fringe church in Florida. It is not known if that had any connection to Monday’s incident, but the attacker was identified as an Afghan Border Policeman, named only Samarudin, 23, a resident of Mazar-i-Sharif, where the violence began last Friday, and where seven United Nations staff members were killed in rioting.
Scattered protests over the Koran-burning continued Monday, but they were largely peaceful.
The two American victims were involved in training the Afghan Border Police at a base in Maimana city, the capital of Faryab Province, according to Abdul Sattar Bariz, the deputy governor of the province.
“It was an individual act, which could have various reasons or motives, but it does not mean at all that the security situation is bad in the province,” said Faryab Governor Abdul Haq Shafaq. He said the American trainers had good relations with the border police battalion. “It’s early to say if the shooting had links with the Holy Koran burning or not.”
The International Security Assistance Force would only say in a statement released Monday that two ISAF service members were killed in a shooting and that it was investigating the incident.
The attack took place while the deputy commander of the Afghan Border Police there, Col. Najamuddin, was in a meeting with American trainers, the colonel said. Mr. Samarudin, on guard duty outside, shot and killed two of the American soldiers providing security for the meeting, and then fled, leaving his weapon behind, Colonel Najamuddin said. Like many Afghans, he uses only one name. He said a manhunt was underway to find Mr. Samarudin.
Once relatively peaceful, Faryab Province has seen a spike in insurgent activity since last year as Taliban infiltrators have flowed into the area.
There has been a string of previous such attacks by members of Afghan security forces. On Saturday, a policeman in Samkani District of Paktia Province opened fire on American soldiers and Afghan police who had their backs turned while filling fortifications with dirt. Two Afghan police officer died, including the attacker, and two American soldiers were wounded, according to Saddat Khan, the district governor.
On Feb. 18, a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire on German soldiers in Pul-e-Khumri, Baghlan Province, killing two and wounding eight others, according to the police commander, Gen. Daoud Daoud. And on Jan. 22, the Taliban claimed that an Afghan army soldier turned his weapon on French troops at Sarobi, in Kabul Province, killing three. Afghan authorities said the claim was untrue, and that the soldier was a deserter who did not succeed in killing anyone.
Last year, on Aug. 25, an Afghan policeman at a NATO training base in Badakshan Province killed two Spanish soldiers and their interpreter. And on July 13, an Afghan soldier killed three British soldiers and injured six others in Helmand Province while they were on a joint patrol.
In nearly all such cases, Taliban spokesmen have claimed the attacker was an infiltrator, taking advantage of a push by NATO to rapidly increase the size of the Afghan security forces. In some of those cases, however, it was later proven that personal motives were involved.