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Deadly 24 hours in Afghanistan as 10 NATO troops killed

Four soldiers were shot dead, while another six were killed in a helicopter crash.

Soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday.
Soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday.
Image: Abdul Khaleq/AP/Press Association Images

COALITION FORCES IN Afghanistan have suffered a terrible 24 hours as four French troops were shot and killed by an Afghan soldier in the east of the country, while a helicopter crash killed six NATO service members in the south.

Following the killings, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that France is suspending its training programs for Afghan troops.

He said it was “unacceptable” that Afghan troops would attack French soldiers. He said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe is heading to Afghanistan after the attack, which is among the most deadly for French forces in the 10 years they have been serving in the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan.

NATO said in statements that the Afghan shooter had been apprehended, but it disclosed no other details about the incident.

Taliban infiltration

It appeared to be the second time in a month that an Afghan soldier has attacked French forces. On 29 December 2011, a soldier in the Afghan National Army opened fire and killed two members of the 2nd regiment of the Foreign Legion. French forces fired back and killed the assailant.

Similar attacks have raised fears of increased Taliban infiltration of the Afghan police and army as NATO speeds up the training of the security forces. In some cases the attackers were Afghan soldiers who turned on NATO troops. Others involved insurgents dressed in Afghan uniforms.

Earlier this month, a US service member was killed when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire at a base in the south of the country.

Afghan security forces or insurgents dressed in their uniforms have attacked and killed international troops or civilian trainers more than a dozen times in the past two years, according to an Associated Press count.

In one of the worst incidents, a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire at Kabul airport on April 27, 2011, killing eight US troops and an American civilian contractor.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings Jr., a spokesman for the coalition, said that cases where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed coalition forces are isolated cases and do not occur on a routine basis. “We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships,” he said.

Enemy activity?

On Thursday, a NATO helicopter crashed, killing six members of the international military force.

The cause is still being investigated, but a coalition statement said there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef claimed insurgents shot down the helicopter, a Chinook, in Musa Qala district of Helmand province, killing all on board.

The coalition did not disclose the nationalities of those killed and would not release details of the crash until the families of the dead were notified.

It was the deadliest crash in Afghanistan since August, when 30 American troops died after a Chinook helicopter was apparently shot down in Wardak province in the center of the country.

Explainer: What is/Who are the Taliban?

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