Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY July 14, 2010 - "We're Hiding Rogue Afghan Gunman" Says Taliban

Defense News: DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY July 14, 2010 - "We're Hiding Rogue Afghan Gunman" Says Taliban
Three Nato soldiers and five Afghan civilians have died in a Taliban suicide attack on a police base in southern Kandahar province, Nato said.
Source: DTN News - this article / report compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including BBC News & Sky News
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 14, 2010: The Taliban has said the renegade Afghan soldier who killed three British troops, including a senior commander, has joined its cause and is under its protection.
The killer launched his attack on soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles at a joint patrol base near Helmand Province's capital, Lashkar Gah, in southern Afghanistan.
He shot the company commander in his sleeping quarters and killed the other two in the base's command centre using a shoulder-mounted rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Describing it as a "suspected premeditated attack", the Ministry of Defence said the soldiers' families have been informed. Four other soldiers were wounded.
Reporting from Afghanistan, British Forces News correspondent Lorna Ward said: "The Taliban has released a statement that says (the gunman) has joined the cause and it is harbouring him.
"He is obviously on the run. There is now a joint Nato and Afghan effort to find him."
Questions are now being raised about some of the British Government's key aims in Afghanistan. Foreign Secretary William Hague has described the attack as "treacherous", while Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the "appalling" incident.
But both stressed it should not change the strategy of working alongside Afghan forces.
A massive programme to expand the Afghan security forces is under way. The goal is that the army should grow from 85,000 in 2009 to 134,000 by 2011.
Mr Hague said: "We must not let this turn us against working with the Afghan national security forces.
"It is by building up their capabilities that eventually international troops are able to leave Afghanistan."
This is the second time members of Afghanistan's security forces turned on UK troops with tragic results.
Five British soldiers were killed and six injured when an Afghan policeman opened fire at a secure checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand in November.
Sky News' foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said the latest attack will be "devastating for morale".
He added: "If the Taliban were proven to have a policy of trying to get as many people inside the Afghan army as possible that would be a serious, serious threat."
Marshall said the quality of the Afghan soldiers has improved but there is still a huge amount of work to do.
He said it was also vital efforts were made to establish more "cohesion" between Pasthu Afghan soldiers - from the south where the British are based - and ethnically different troops from the north.
Marshall said: "The Afghan army is better than it was a few years ago and the training is having an effect, but that concept of discipline is not there.
"There is a flaw in the strategy unless they can get more cohesion within the Afghan army and ensure they all think they are Afghans rather than Pashtus."
Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said the killings were thought to be the actions of a "lone individual".
The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and the Afghan Ministry of Defence launched a joint investigation into the killings.
In a separate incident in Sangin district on Tuesday, a Royal Marine was shot dead while on foot patrol.
The marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines was serving as part of Combined Force Sangin. Next of kin have been informed.
The British death toll in the Afghan campaign since 2001 now stands at 318.
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