Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Top US general visits Afghanistan to discuss attacks

AP, KABUL

The US military’s top general was meeting with senior officials in Afghanistan yesterday to attempt to stop the recent wave of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police against international forces in the country.

Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, landed at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul earlier in the day and was scheduled to meet with General John Allen, the commander of NATO and US forces in the country, and senior Afghan officials, spokesman Jamie Graybeal said.

“He’s certainly talking about a number of issues, including progress with the [military] campaign and the like,” Graybeal said. “He’s also obviously talking about the insider attacks.”

In the latest such attack, on Sunday, two Afghan policemen turned their weapons on US troops in Kandahar Province, killing a US service member, officials said. That raised the death toll to 10 US troops killed in such attacks in the space of just two weeks.

Sunday’s attack happened in Kandahar’s Spin Boldak District near the border with Pakistan. One of the attackers was killed when the troops returned fire and the other escaped, Graybeal said.

A US Defense Department official confirmed that the dead service member was American. The official spoke anonymously because the nationality of the deceased had not been officially released.

The Taliban have been actively recruiting members of the Afghan security forces, saying in a statement last week that they considered these turncoat attacks a major part of their strategy against international forces.

Once an anomaly, these attacks have been climbing in recent months. There have been 30 such attacks so far this year, up from 11 last year.

On Saturday, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to encourage him to work with US commanders to ensure more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits.

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