Two more American military personnel were killed in Southern Afghanistan today when, officials believe, an Afghan civilian grabbed a weapon from an Afghan soldier and opened fire, NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul. At least one other attacker may also have been involved.
Quil adds that “we don’t know yet whether this attack is linked to the Quran burnings, which set off so much violence — including the killing of four U.S. servicemen in the week that followed.”
But as he notes, the killings follow closely the anti-American protests and violence in Afghanistan since it was reported on Feb. 21 that international military personnel had burned some Qurans at the Bagram Air Field north of Kabul. According to U.S. officials, the Qurans were mistakenly mixed with some trash. There have been apologies from President Obama and top U.S. commanders.
The Associated Press adds that it’s been told by some officials that as many as three attackers may have been involved in today’s killings — and that two of them were killed. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force says in a statement “two individuals, one believed to be an Afghan National Army service member and the other in civilian clothing, turned their weapons indiscriminately against International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Security Force service members in southern Afghanistan today.”
On ABC News’ Nightline Wednesday, Obama said that while “we’re not out of the woods yet,” he believes the apologies have “calmed things down” in Afghanistan. He came under some sharp criticism — most vocally from Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich — after issuing the apology.
Earlier today, on Morning Edition, NPR’s Tom Bowman reported from Fort Polk, La., on the mock villages where U.S. military personnel are training for their dangerous mission to be advisers to the Afghan Army:
“The mission will be to advise and assist the Afghans on just about everything from combat operations and logistics to police work and medical care.
“It’s no small task. Afghan soldiers and police aren’t well-educated. There are desertion, drug abuse and a host of other problems. ‘The big problem in Afghanistan, for the Afghanistan government, is corruption,’ says Wahidullah Naqibullah, one of the Afghan role-players at Fort Polk.”