Afghanistan war: Afghan soldier kills three British troops and escapes. Now what?
An Afghan soldier killed three British troops Tuesday. His motives are not known, but the incident could increase British skepticism about the Afghanistan war.
An Afghan soldier killed three British soldiers in volatile Helmand Province on Tuesday in an incident that is certain to raise public questions about the Afghan National Army at a time when the British public is increasingly skeptical about the nine-year-old war.Skip to next paragraph
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The incident took place in the district of Nahr-e-Saraj in northern Helmand, Afghanistan’s opium growing heartland and the site of the worst British losses in the war to date.
Three soldiers from the Royal Gurkha Rifles and four others were wounded when an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire with what early accounts said was a rocket-propelled grenade. Two of the dead were British nationals; the third was a Gurkha, the ethnic group from northern India and Nepal that supplies most of the regiment’s infantrymen.
This wasn't the first incident
This was at least the third time that British forces were deliberately shot at by an Afghan comrade. The previous incidents were in 2008 and 2009.
British forces have been in northern Helmand for most of the war. In the nearby district of Sangin, where British forces are currently withdrawing and handing over control to the US, they have lost 100 men.
Gen. David Petraeus, who took command of the war here earlier this month, warned about the impact on relations between Afghan forces and their NATO allies. "We have sacrificed greatly together, and we must ensure that the trust between our forces remains solid," he said in a statement.
The motives and mental state of the killer, who fled the scene, aren’t yet known. Was he mentally disturbed or suffering from combat stress? Was he a Taliban plant? Or someone who joined the Army to fight the Taliban, but later had a change of heart?
Attacks on comrades are not confined to Afghan soldiers. US Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar murdered two officers in Kuwait in 2003, and US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 13 comrades at Fort Hood in Texas last year.