Insider Attack Kills Two 82nd Airborne Soldiers in Afghanistan, Officials Say

U.S. paratroopers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division place concertina wire around an observation post in Pekha Valley, Achin District, Nangahar Province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Matthew DeVirgilio)
U.S. paratroopers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division place concertina wire around an observation post in Pekha Valley, Achin District, Nangahar Province, Afghanistan, on Sept. 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Matthew DeVirgilio)

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, were killed in an insider attack in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Ahmad Sadiq, a spokesman for the Afghan army's 205th Corps, said the soldiers were shot dead Monday by an Afghan soldier at a base in Shah Wali Kot district in southern Kandahar province.

The attacker was wounded and taken into police custody, Sadiq said.

"We and our foreign colleagues are working hard together to eliminate the enemies of this country, the enemies of Afghanistan and humanity," Sadiq told Stars and Stripes by phone. "It is unfortunate that some of our soldiers will open fire on foreign troops or even on their Afghan colleagues."

Deputy spokesman of Afghanistan's Defense Department Fawad Aman confirmed two American troops were killed in Kandahar on Monday by an Afghan soldier but was unable to provide further details.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi commended the attack in a statement, saying it was carried out by a "sensible Afghan soldier," although not one of the militant group's fighters.

The names of the service members are being withheld until next of kin are notified, which is the Pentagon's policy.

Their unit confirmed in a statement posted online Monday that two of its soldiers had been killed.

"It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the loss of two Paratroopers from the Brigade during combat operations," unit commander Col. Art Sellers said in the statement. "The expertise of every staff member of this brigade and in the 82nd Airborne Division will be utilized to ensure the families of the fallen are taken care of."

The incident is the first known insider attack in Afghanistan since November when Maj. Brent Taylor of the Utah National Guard was killed by an Afghan soldier at a military training center in Kabul.

Also known as green-on-blue attacks, insider attacks have plagued American forces throughout the war, but enhanced security and vetting procedures have made them less common in recent years.

Monday's deaths bring to 14 the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year. All but two were combat-related.

A Croatian soldier supporting NATO's training and advising mission was the first foreign soldier from outside the U.S. killed this year when a suicide bomber targeted his vehicle in Kabul.

Violence has continued across Afghanistan as American and Taliban officials hold direct talks aimed at ending the U.S.' longest war, now in its 18th year.

Some 14,000 American troops are deployed to the country, according to the latest Defense Department figures. They are engaged in counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida and Islamic State fighters, and in training and advising Afghan security forces.

More than 2,400 American military personnel have been killed since the war began in 2001, and more than 20,000 more have been wounded.

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