The PJ Tatler

Contradicting accounts on today's green-on-blue attack in Afghanistan that killed two ISAF troops

Earlier today I wrote about the “green-on-blue” attack by an Afghan army soldier that killed two ISAF troops (their nationality not yet identified, but presumed to be American since it occurred in a largely American-patrolled area).

But contradicting accounts have now appeared courtesy of an Afghan army spokesman Noman Hatefi, who claims in this Associated Press article that the killing of the two ISAF troops was the result of an accidental discharge:

Then on Monday morning, two American soldiers were shot and killed by one of their Afghan colleagues in the east, military officials said, bringing to 12 the number of international troops — all Americans — to die at the hands of their local allies this month.

But Afghan officials said Monday’s attack in Laghman province was a separate case from the rash of recent insider attacks on international forces, because it appeared to have been an accidental shooting.

When the group of U.S. and Afghan soldiers came under attack, they returned fire and ran to take up fighting positions, said Noman Hatefi, a spokesman for the Afghan army corps in eastern Afghanistan. But an Afghan soldier fell and accidentally discharged his weapon, killing two American soldiers with the errant rounds, he said.

“He didn’t do this intentionally. But then the commander of the unit started shouting at him, `What did you do? You killed two NATO soldiers!’ And so he threw down his weapon and started to run,” Hatefi added. The U.S. troops had already called in air support to help with the insurgent attack and the aircraft fired on the escaping Afghan soldier from above, killing him, Hatefi said.

NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Hagen Messer of Germany confirmed that two international soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier in Laghman province, but declined to give further comment.

But that contradicts an earlier ISAF statement reported by Reuters that said the killing was conducted by a “rogue Afghan soldier”:

A rogue Afghan soldier shot dead two U.S. troops in east Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led coalition said, the latest in a series of insider killings that have strained trust between the allies ahead of a 2014 pullout by foreign combat troops.

The deaths in Laghman province brought to 12 the number of foreign soldiers killed this month, prompting NATO to increase security against insider attacks, including requiring soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times on base.

They also come a week after U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey visited Kabul to talk about rogue shootings and urge Afghan officials to take tougher preventative action.

“ISAF troops returned fire, killing the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldier who committed the attack,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

The Associated Press report quoting the Afghan army spokesman was entitled “Killing of 2 US soldiers by Afghan soldier appears to be accidental, officials say”, but his account is patently laughable.

I will note that if ISAF had published the statement quoted by Reuters appeared on the ISAF website, it’s now gone (although two other unrelated statements from today still appear).

The killings were either done by a “rogue Afghan soldier” (the more plausible option) or is an accidental shooting. Both accounts confirm that the perpetrator was killed, with ISAF saying that he was killed by troops returning fire, while the Afghan spokesman said he was killed by an airstrike. But both can’t be right.

My money is on that the Afghan spokesman is lying. Has Baghdad Bob reinvented himself as Kabul Khalid? If so, he appears to be on our side this time.

You might think that some enterprising establishment media reporter would ask Gen. Allen about the discrepancy, but don’t hold your breath. The Pentagon wants these stories to go away.