Kabul, Afghanistan – A man dressed in an Afghan Border Police uniform turned his weapon on international troops in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing six service members before himself being killed in a shootout, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.
The incident appears to be one of the worst in a string of attacks in which members of the Afghan security forces have turned against international troops they are supposed to be partnered with.
ISAF did not immediately release the nationalities or identities of the six slain soldiers. However, U.S. troops comprise the bulk of NATO troops in eastern Afghanistan.
The incident took place in Nangarhar province, in the remote district of Pachir Agam, Afghan and U.S. officials said. The district, which borders Pakistan, is home to the Tora Bora mountains, where al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden made a last stand against invading U.S. forces in late 2001 before escaping into Pakistan.
U.S.-led forces have been attempting to train Afghan’s border police to better control the border, which is easily crossed by insurgents and smugglers.
But the killings appear to call into further question the reliability of Afghanistan’s own security forces, which U.S. President Barack Obama is counting on to handle the country’s security when U.S. combat troops withdraw at the end of 2014.
U.S. officials said it was not yet clear whether the assailant was a border policeman, or merely dressed in the unit’s uniform.
Investigators are “trying to find out who this person was, and why they were there,” said a U.S. military official, who was not authorized to speak for the record.
In a brief statement, NATO said the attack took place during a training mission, and was being investigated. Other details were not divulged, including how the assailant was able to kill six international troops before being fatally shot.
“There is a training camp for the border police in that district, and the information we received (is that) a soldier from the border police opened fire on the foreign trainers and killed six and he was killed too,” said a spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, Gul Agha Sherzai.
“The circumstances of the incident are not clear yet. Our teams have been dispatched to the area and will investigate the case,” said the spokesman, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai. “In eastern Afghanistan, Americans are stationed,” he added.
Gen. Aminullah Amarkhil, the commander of Nangarhar border police, said the incident took place around 2:30 p.m.
On Saturday, at least 10 police officers were killed in Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan when two suicide bombers disguised in police uniforms blew themselves up in the province’s police headquarters.
Earlier this month, a soldier from the U.S.-trained Afghan army was reported to have shot two U.S. soldiers in southern Helmand province.
Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.