KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan soldier killed three British service members with gunfire and a rocket-propelled grenade in the dead of night, a betrayal that highlights the difficulties in rapidly building up Afghan security forces so that foreign troops can go home.
The soldier fled the base after carrying out the attack in southern Afghanistan early Tuesday, leaving his motive unclear. But the Taliban claimed that he was a militant sympathizer who was taken in by insurgents after the assault – one that could further weaken support in Britain for an unpopular war that has now taken the lives of 318 Britons.
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the killings as “appalling” but insisted the attack should not change NATO’s strategy of working alongside the Afghan army. Four other British service members were wounded in the attack on a base in northern Helmand province that is home to members of the 1st Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles.
It was the second time in eight months that an Afghan turned against British troops partnering with local security forces. In November, an Afghan policeman killed five British soldiers at a checkpoint in Helmand.
Afghan police in the past have also attacked American soldiers and their own police stations, though such intentional attacks are rare.