File photo shows a Nato soldiers patrolling in Afghanistan. – AFP Photo
KANDAHAR: A roadside bomb killed five US troops Saturday in Afghanistan and two other Nato soldiers were shot dead in an “insider attack,” a week after the Taliban launched their spring offensive.
The bomb killed five soldiers in a vehicle in the southern province of Kandahar, local police said, while the two other Nato troops were killed by an Afghan army soldier in the far west of the country.
The nationalities of the two who died in the insider attack was not disclosed by Nato’s International Security Assistance Force, in line with coalition policy.
Akram Khpalwak, governor of Farah province, told AFP that an Afghan soldier had opened fire in the Bala Buluk district of Farah, but he was unable to give further details.
General Abdul Razeq, police chief in Kandahar, said that “five American soldiers were killed at about noon when their armoured vehicle hit a powerful roadside mine in Maiwand district.”
Nato-led soldiers are fighting alongside Afghan colleagues to thwart Taliban militants, but more than 60 foreign soldiers were killed in 2012 in insider attacks that have bred fierce mistrust between allies.
The last suspected incident was on March 11 when two US soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in Wardak province by a man in Afghan army uniform who also killed several Afghan soldiers.
The Taliban vowed a spate of insider attacks when they launched their spring offensive a week ago, but Nato says that most such shootings stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than militant plots.
The threat has become so serious that foreign soldiers working with Afghan forces are regularly watched over by so-called “guardian angel” troops to provide protection.
The militants’ annual spring offensive opened a crucial period for Afghanistan as its security forces take the lead in offensives against insurgents who are fighting to topple the US-backed government.
All Nato combat missions will finish by the end of next year, and the 100,000 foreign troops deployed across Afghanistan have already begun to withdraw from the battlefield.
More than 11 years after the Taliban regime was ousted in 2001, efforts to seek a political settlement ending the violence have so far made little progress, but pressure is growing ahead of the Nato withdrawal.