U.S. Soldiers Shot Dead in Afghan Attack as DoD Chiefs Deny Taliban Collusion Claims

Mike O'Brien

Two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan have been shot dead in a so-called insider attack at a remote military base in Wardak province.

A number of Afghan troops also died in the shooting, which was started by a member of the Afghan security forces. He was shot dead at the scene.

The gunman opened fire as U.S. Special Forces and Afghan commandos held an early Monday morning meeting. American military officials said 10 U.S. troops were wounded.

Killings by Afghan security force personnel, or Taliban extremists pretending to be one of them, have grown in recent years. More than 60 NATO troops died in such attacks last year.

Tensions are running in Wardak province, where Afghan President Hamid Karzai had ordered U.S. Special Forces to leave by the middle of this month because of various allegations made against them.

The killings come a day after Mr. Karzai accused the U.S. of working with the Taliban to ensure U.S. forces stay for as long as possible in Afghanistan. U.S. defense chiefs strongly deny the claims.

New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit to Afghanistan was married on Friday by bomb attacks in Kabul and in Khost Province that killed at least 19 people, including nine civilians, eight children and two policemen. A U.S. contractor and four soldiers were injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

After the bombs Mr. Karzai said the attack showed the Taliban "are serving foreigners and are not against the foreigner. These bombings show that Taliban want longer presence of foreigners, not their departure from Afghanistan."

Mr. Hagel said he discussed Mr. Karzai’s comments when they met at the weekend. He said: "I told the President it was not true that the United States was working unilaterally with the Taliban and trying to negotiate anything. The fact is, any prospect for peace or political settlements —that has to be led by the Afghans. That has to come from the Afghan side.

"I know these are difficult issues for President Karzai and the Afghan people. And I was once a politician, so I can understand the kind of pressures that especially leaders of countries are always under."

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