A U.S.-trained member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) opened fire on American troops in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing one U.S. service member and wounding at least two others, local and foreign news agencies report.
U.S. troops returned fire, killing the Afghan soldier who attacked them.
Hezb-e-Islami is considered the second largest insurgent group in Afghanistan after the Taliban.
The spokesperson for the Islamist organization mentioned that the Afghan soldier who killed his American counterpart “was their insider in the Afghan army ranks.”
Insider attacks involve Afghan soldiers or policemen turning their weapons on allied forces. Some green on blue incidents have also involved Taliban terrorists wearing Afghan police or military uniforms to attack U.S. and NATO troops.
The latest green on blue victim is the first fatality suffered by U.S. troops since the international coalition ended its combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 and transitioned to the new train and assist mission.
According to various media reports, Wednesday’s insider attack took place immediately after a U.S. embassy official left the governor’s compound in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, located in eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistan border.
Sherzad noted that the Afghan soldier who opened fire on the U.S. troops accompanied the U.S. embassy official to the governor’s home in Jalalabad.
Khaama Press quoted Sherzad as saying that “a meeting of U.S. officials, which included representative from the embassy and military commanders, was organized with the governors and security officers of eastern provinces and at the end of the meeting a soldier from Afghan National Army opened fire at U.S officials.”
“Right after the U.S. official had left, suddenly an Afghan army soldier opened fire on the U.S. soldiers who were present in the compound,” Sherzad, the provincial police chief, told AP.
Noman Atefi, a spokesman for the Afghan National Army’s eastern corps command, told AP that two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack.
Citing eyewitnesses, AP reports that as many as four U.S. troops may have been wounded.
Gen. Sherzad and the spokesman for the insurgent group that claimed responsibility for the attack, Hezb-e-Islami, identified the attacker as Abdul Azim. The motive for the attack is unclear.
A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Kabul confirmed the incident without acknowledging any casualties.
“We are aware that there was an exchange of gunfire involving Resolute Support service members near the provincial governor’s compound in Jalalabad,” said a U.S. embassy spokesman in a statement. “The incident took place after a senior U.S. official held a meeting with the provincial governor. All Chief of Mission personnel of the visiting party are accounted for.”
NATO’s new train and assist mission, dubbed Resolute Support, confirmed that one of its service members died in the attack without revealing the nationality of the slain.
However, several U.S. officials have confirmed that the coalition service member who was killed by the Afghan soldier is an American.
At the end of January, a watchdog agency appointed by Congress reported that in 2014 alone there were six insider attacks against U.S. forces, resulting in four deaths.
According to a count by The Long War Journal, since the beginning of 2008, at least 147 coalition service members have been killed and 184 others have been wounded as a result of insider attacks.
On January 29, an Afghan soldier killed three American contractors and wounded a fourth at the military airport in Kabul, an incident that some consider to be the first green on blue attack of 2015, although it did not involve coalition troops.
The Washington Post reported that the Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Long War Journal does not break down the coalition green on blue casualties by country of origin. However, most insider attacks target U.S. troops. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for most green on blue attacks in Afghanistan.
Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83