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May 13, 2021

US troops killed in Afghan ‘insider attack’

Hagel and Karzai meet as violence flares.

Several US and Afghan commandos have been shot dead in a so-called insider attack, US and Afghan sources say, according to the BBC. Several others were wounded in the attack at a remote military base in Wardak province, not far from Kabul. The US military called the attack a “betrayal”. The killer – a member of the Afghan security forces – was shot dead at the scene. Last year more than 60 NATO troops were killed by Afghan security personnel or insurgents posing as them. The gunman – a member of the Afghan army or police – opened fire as US special forces and Afghan commandos held an early morning meeting. Two US soldiers were among those killed, the US military said. The attacker was also killed and the US-led special operations task force said the area had been secured.  The early indications are that this may rank as one of the most significant insider attacks to take place in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had ordered US special forces to leave Wardak province by the middle of this month because of allegations of torture and disappearances carried out by Afghan troops working with them.  Earlier on Monday, police in Kabul said two civilian lorry drivers were killed and one wounded when they were fired on by an Isaf convoy. The international security force Isaf said soldiers had opened fire to protect themselves when the two drivers failed to comply with a warning.  The latest deaths come amid continuing tension between the Afghan government and the US, as NATO troops prepare to end combat operations next year.Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met over dinner in the Afghan capital on Sunday in an attempt to smooth over the latest dispute in the already strained relationship between the two allies, CNN reports. Hagel told reporters he tried to reassure Karzai that the United States had no unilateral back-channel talks with the Taliban and said Washington is still on track to wind up its 11-year combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Hagel’s dinner with the Afghan leader in Kabul came after a scheduled joint news conference between the two was canceled. Pentagon spokesman George Little said the schedule had changed “for a variety of reasons, to include decisions related to security in Kabul that were reached in consultation with our Afghan partners.” “I know these are difficult issues for President Karzai and the Afghan people,” Hagel said after the meeting. “I was once a politician, so I can understand the kind of pressures that especially leaders of countries are always under. I would hope, again, that we can move forward, and I have confidence that we can and will deal with these issues.” The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack at the Afghan Ministry of Defense in Kabul, which killed at least nine people and wounded 14 others. A Taliban spokesman expressed pleasure with Hagel’s proximity at the time, calling the attack “a message to him.”  NATO’s International Security Assistance Force rejected suggestions that the Taliban even knew of Hagel’s trip when they planned the operation.

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