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British soldier shot dead in Afghan 'insider attack'

09 January, 2013

KABUL: A member of the Afghan army shot dead a British soldier, officials said on Tuesday, in the latest "insider attack" to undermine the US-led mission training Afghans to take over from NATO troops next year.

The attack came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepared for talks in Washington on long-term US military and civilian support for his country, where fears are growing that turmoil could erupt after foreign troops depart. The British member of an engineering regiment was killed when the Afghan soldier opened fire on Monday at a base in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province in the insurgency-ridden south.

NATO soldiers are fighting alongside Afghan colleagues to thwart Taliban militants. But more than 60 foreign soldiers were killed in 2012 in "insider attacks" that have bred mistrust and threatened to derail the training process. Afghan soldiers and police are taking on responsibility for battling the militants from 100,000 NATO troops who will leave by the end of next year more than a decade after a US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime.

"The British soldier was killed when a suspected Afghan soldier opened fire first at Afghan troops and then at British soldiers," said Major Martyn Crighton, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). "In the subsequent engagement, the attacker was killed by British troops." Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi claimed in an email to AFP that the attack was carried out by a militant infiltrator, and that eight British and two Afghan soldiers had been killed.

Six British soldiers were injured in the shoot-out, military officials confirmed, as Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his condolences and said that stronger vetting of Afghan army recruits was being put in place. Cameron's "thoughts are very much with the family and friends of the soldier who was killed", his spokesman said.

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