An Afghan soldier fatally shot an American service member and a local interpreter in southern Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, the latest in a string of attacks against U.S. and other foreign forces by their Afghan partners.
In the east, meanwhile, three U.S. service members were killed in a bomb attack, according to NATO and a U.S. official. The official confirmed the nationalities on condition of anonymity because the information had not yet been publicly released.
In the insider attack in southern Kandahar province, an Afghan soldier opened fire with a machine gun from atop a building, killing a U.S. soldier and an Afghan interpreter, and wounding three other coalition service members before he was gunned down, a senior U.S. defense official said.
The U.S. military officially confirmed only that a man wearing an Afghan army uniform turned his gun on coalition service members late Wednesday, killing one. The incident was under investigation, the military said.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been at least 16 such attacks against American and other international troops. The U.S.-led coalition is trying to mentor and strengthen Afghan security forces so they can lead the fight against the Taliban, and foreign troops can go home by the end of 2014. That mission, however, requires a measure of trust that has been repeatedly undermined by the deaths of coalition troops at the hands of their Afghan partners.
In one of the highest-profile attacks, a man working as a driver at the Afghan Interior Ministry shot dead two U.S. military advisers at close range in March. That incident alone led the U.S. military to temporarily pull all its advisers out of Afghan ministries. U.S.-Afghan ties have also been under strain following Quran burnings at a U.S. base and the killing spree allegedly by an American soldier in the south in recent months.
Meanwhile, the Taliban this week have shuttered or partially shuttered about 50 schools in southeastern Afghanistan, a bold display of the insurgency's power in a part of the country now at the center of the American war effort.
The closings, reported by the Washington Post, apparently came in response to an Afghan government decision to ban motorcycles in the southern districts of Ghazni province. Officials in Ghazni outlawed their use last fall after insurgents used unmarked bikes to carry out attacks on civilians and local authorities.
Militants responded this week by warning educators and families to keep children at home, Afghan officials said.
The message spread quickly. Of the 36,000 students who usually attend schools in southern Ghazni, about half have yielded to the Taliban threat, officials said.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.