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Two NATO Soldiers Killed by Men Wearing Afghan Military Uniforms

Attacks by Afghan troops on foreign soldiers have long been a major problem, but have declined in recent years. Wednesday's killings mark the first such attack since the Taliban's bitter leadership battle.

by VICE News
Aug 26 2015, 12:50pm

Security has been heightened in Helmand after two foreign soldiers were killed on August 26. Photo by Watan Tar/EPA

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Two NATO soldiers have been killed by men dressed in Afghan military outfits in an apparent insider attack.

The killings, which took place on Wednesday in Helmand province, marked the first attack on foreign troops since the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar in July and subsequent power transition. His longtime deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was named as his successor amid a bitter dispute.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the deaths.

"Two Resolute Support (NATO) service members died early this morning when two individuals wearing Afghan [military] uniforms opened fire on their vehicle at an [Afghan security forces] compound in Helmand province," said a NATO statement, reported AFP. While NATO initially said the two who opened fire had been killed, they later said they were both still alive.

The news of the killings came on the same day that the Taliban seized Musa Qala, once a key NATO position and the second town in northern Helmand to be captured by the Taliban in recent weeks.

Related: At Least 12 Dead After Suicide Attack on NATO Convoy in Kabul

There have been dozens of so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, where Afghan troops target their international allies, since 2007, though they have become less frequent in recent years. More than 100 foreign soldiers have been killed by Afghan troops, creating grave tensions between local and Western forces.

The attacks are often said to be down to individual grudges between soldiers or cultural misunderstanding, while in some cases they are blamed on Taliban infiltration of the Afghan army.

The last green-on-blue attack occurred in April, when a US soldier was killed after a man in an Afghan uniform attacked the convoy he was traveling in. The highest-ranking foreign soldier to be killed by an Afghan fighter was US Major General Harold Greene last August — the most senior member of the American military to die in action overseas since the Vietnam war.

While NATO officially ended its combat mission in Afghanistan last December, removing the majority of its troops, some 13,000 still remain, charged with helping counter-terrorism operations and training.

The Taliban have stepped up their summer offensive despite the leadership crisis. A wave of bombings this month has killed more than 60 people and wounded hundreds in Kabul.

Related: German Aid Worker Reportedly Kidnapped in Kabul