U.S. troops wounded in apparent insider attack at Afghan base

An apparent insider attack in northern Afghanistan on Saturday left some U.S. troops wounded, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

If confirmed as an incident among joint forces, it would mark the second time in a week that members of allied Afghan troops opened fire on U.S. counterparts.

Robert Purtiman, a spokesman for the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, said that the U.S. military was aware of “an incident” at Camp Shaheen in Mazar-e Sharif. He said there were no U.S. or NATO fatalities, but noted that U.S. soldiers were wounded.

One Afghan soldier was killed, he said. The incident was under investigation.

A spokesman for the Afghan ministry of Defense said “three foreign soldiers, possibly Americans” had been wounded during training at the base. The gunman — an Afghan — had been shot and killed, the spokesman said. Another Afghan soldier was also wounded.

Camp Shaheen is home to the Afghans 209th Corps and was the site of a complex Taliban attack in April that killed more than 130 Afghan soldiers.

On June 10, three U.S. soldiers were killed and another was wounded when an Afghan commando opened fire.

The soldiers were assisting operations against the Islamic State in the country’s eastern Nangahar province. Six U.S. troops have been killed from hostile fire in Afghanistan in 2017.

More than U.S. 2,000 troops have died from both combat and noncombat causes in the country since 2001.

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The incident comes just days after President Trump delegated authority to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, opening the door for a possible of influx of forces that could number in the thousands.

In April, Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the same sprawling Afghan army training base, leaving at least 100 Afghan soldiers dead and scores more wounded.

The attackers, some dressed in Afghan military uniforms, managed to pass through two checkpoints in military vehicles before being stopped, after which they opened fire on the busy compound. The brazen assault, which came as Mattis arrived in Afghanistan, led to the dismissal of Afghanistan’s top defense officials by President Ashraf Ghani.

After more than 15 years of war the Taliban control broad swathes of the country and the struggling Afghan security forces continue to take an almost unsustainable amount of causalities as they battle to hold provincial capitals. Mattis told lawmakers during several hearings this week that he would have a strategy on the way forward in Afghanistan by mid-July.

In a statement Wednesday, Mattis said that “this administration will not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

There are currently around 8,500 U.S. troops and 5,000 NATO forces in Afghanistan

Salahuddin reported from Kabul. Pamela Constable in Islamabad contributed to this report.