NATO soldier killed in Taliban-claimed attack in Afghanistan

Allison JACKSON
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A NATO soldier was killed and two others wounded in an attack that was the latest in a series of such incidents in which Afghan forces have turned their weapons on international troops with whom they are working

A NATO soldier was killed and two others wounded in a Taliban-claimed attack in Afghanistan on Monday, days after a US general was wounded in a shooting on a high-level security meeting.

NATO's Resolute Support mission did not immediately release the nationalities of the three soldiers involved in the assault in the western province of Herat, but it is understood they are not American.

"Initial reports indicate the attack was committed by a member of the Afghan security forces," Resolute Support said in a statement.

The apparent so-called "green-on-blue" attack was the latest in a series of such incidents in which Afghan forces have turned their weapons on international troops with whom they are working.

It comes four days after a gunman wearing an Afghan security forces uniform opened fire on a gathering of security chiefs that included General Scott Miller -- the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan -- in the southern city of Kandahar.

Miller was unhurt in the shooting inside the heavily fortified Kandahar provincial governor's compound that killed three people, including powerful police chief and anti-Taliban strongman General Abdul Raziq.

Resolute Support confirmed Monday that US Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 wounded in the Taliban-claimed shooting.

Smiley suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds and was "in Germany receiving further treatment", the statement said.

The Taliban said the attack had targeted Miller and Raziq, but US officials and Resolute Support said it was an "Afghan-on-Afghan incident" that had not targeted the American general.

In the incident's wake Tadeen Khan -- a brother of Raziq and a member of the Afghan security forces -- has been appointed acting provincial police chief, interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.

Rumours on Afghan social media networks that Resolute Support carried out the attack on Raziq were dismissed by Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Monday, who blamed "the enemies of the Afghan people and their regional supporters" for the gossip.

"Such rumours are justifying the enemies' atrocities," Abdullah -- Afghanistan's equivalent of prime minister -- said in comments at a regular ministerial meeting that were broadcast on Afghan television.

- 15 arrested -

That the Taliban could mount a deadly insider assault in such a secure location has rattled Afghanistan, a country long used to high-profile targeted killings and violence.

It was also an unusual incident for the US military, whose generals seldom face attack and are rarely wounded.

Parliamentary elections held across Afghanistan over the weekend were postponed in Kandahar for at least a week as the government scrambles to secure the province.

Fifteen suspects have been arrested over the shooting so far, national intelligence chief Masoom Estanekzai told reporters in Kandahar on Monday.

The shooter, who was from the southeastern province of Ghazni, had trained in Taliban camps in Pakistan and used a fake national identification document to get a job on the governor's security team, Estanekzai said.

The attack was seen as a major coup for the insurgents and threatens to torpedo peace talks and destabilise the south, which is the Taliban's birthplace.

The Taliban, which controls or contests swathes of the war-torn country, has made significant territorial gains and threatened provincial capitals in recent months.

The increased aggression had been seen as an attempt by the group to strengthen its negotiating position in talks with the United States to end the 17-year war.

Taliban representatives have met with US officials at least twice in Qatar in recent months, most recently on October 12 with newly appointed US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, raising hopes for peace.

But analysts said Thursday's attack may have jeopardised those tentative efforts.