x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Afghan policeman kills three UK soldiers

The latest in a chain of increasingly violent rogue killings is likely to erode trust between Nato and the Afghan forces they train.

KABUL // An Afghan policeman shot dead three British soldiers at a checkpoint in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said yesterday, the latest in a chain of increasingly frequent rogue killings.

Speaking about the attack, in which a fourth British soldier was also injured, provincial governor spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said it could further erode trust between Nato and the Afghan forces they train before most foreign combat troops leave in 2014.

The soldiers were serving with an Afghan police advisory team and were killed after a meeting at the checkpoint at Nahr-e-Saraj in Helmand, Britain's defence ministry said yesterday.

The assailant was injured and detained, a ministry spokesman said.

Britain's defence secretary Philip Hammond said the deaths, which take to 422 the number of British military personnel killed in Afghanistan since the Nato-led war began in 2001, would not impact on Britain's mission there. "Though deeply tragic, yesterday's incident and attacks like it will not derail the mission or distract us from the task in hand," Mr Hammond said.

So-called "green-on-blue" shootings, referring to the uniform of the Afghan security forces and the colour of Nato, have severely strained ties between president Hamid Karzai and his western backers.

Before Sunday's assault there were 17 such attacks this year and 23 Nato soldier deaths, compared to the 11 attacks and 24 deaths for the same period last year, Nato figures show.

However, Nato commanders argue the growing number of shootings is in proportion to the growing size of Afghan security forces toward an eventual 352,000 target.

After the United States, Britain has the second-largest number of troops in Afghanistan at about 9,500, and is due to withdraw 500 by the end of the year.

Two of the soldiers killed on Sunday were from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and one was with the Royal Corps of Signals.