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2 international soldiers killed by Afghan in uniform

By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times –

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two soldiers from the British army were slain in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday by a gunman dressed in an Afghan police uniform, the NATO-led military coalition said.

The attack in Helmand province had the hallmarks of a series of insider attacks in which Afghan security forces have turned their guns on their international partners. At least 53 troops have been slain in such attacks this year, according to the NATO-led alliance.

The soldiers belonged to Britain’s Royal Gurkha Rifles regiment, the British Defense Ministry said in a statement. A spokesman later declined to disclose whether the soldiers were British or Nepalese nationals. The regiment is staffed by Nepalese and commanded by British officers. Nepalese have served in the British military since the 19th century.

Tuesday’s attack was still under investigation. The Taliban in a statement described the fighter as “an infiltrating soldier” who opened fire on British troops and then escaped. The militants put the number of dead at three.

Local officials, who asked not to be identified, cast doubt on the Taliban account. They said foreign troops had been on patrol in Greshk, a community inside Helmand’s Nuri Saraj district, when a fighter ambushed them. The fighter was dressed in a police uniform, but they denied the assailant was a member of the Afghan forces.

Insider attacks have injected severe tensions between the NATO-led troops and the Afghan police and army. International forces are meant to train and help strengthen Afghan units so they can fully take over security for the country by the end of 2014.

Coalition forces concede some of the insider attacks stem from misunderstandings and resentment on the part of Afghan soldiers for their Western counterparts. Some NATO-led troops have even tried to put swearing by foreign troops into context for Afghan forces, who may have taken offense at language used in front of them or directed toward them.

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