A newly recruited Afghan village policeman has opened fire on US personnel, killing two soldiers minutes after he was handed his official weapon during an inauguration ceremony in western Afghanistan.
The assailant in Friday's attack was identified as Mohammad Ismail, a man in his thirties who had joined the Afghan Local Police just five days earlier.
He opened fire during an inauguration ceremony attended by American and Afghan forces in the Kinisk village, Agha Noor Kemtoz, the Farah provincial police chief, said.
"As soon as they gave the weapon to Ismail to begin training, suddenly he took the gun and opened fire toward the US soldiers," Kemtoz said.
Ismail was shot and killed as the coalition and Afghan forces returned fire, the police chief said.
Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for the US-led NATO military coalition in Afghanistan, confirmed that two American service members were killed on Friday by a member of the Afghan Local Police.
The local police force is different from the national police, and represents a village defence force under the ministry of interior that is being trained by international forces, including US special forces.
Graybeal gave no other details on the Farah attack other than confirming that the attacker had been killed.
Kemtoz, the police chief, said the attack took place about 8:00am (03:30 GMT) after the US forces arrived in the village to train the local police. He said one Afghan National Police officer was also seriously wounded in the shooting.
Later on Friday, an Afghan army soldier fired on coalition troops in the southern province of Kandahar. Two international troops were wounded in that attack, Graybeal said.
The Afghan soldier was shot and died of his wounds, the spokesman said.
The attacks in the country's far west and south brought to nine the number of times that a member of the Afghan security forces - or someone wearing their uniform - has opened fire on international forces in the past two weeks.
At least 36 foreign soldiers have been killed in such attacks, described by NATO as "green-on-blue", this year.
The US-led coalition has said such attacks are anomalies stemming from personal disputes, but the supreme leader of the Taliban boasted on Thursday night that his fighters are infiltrating the quickly expanding Afghan forces.
The top commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said in response: "The pride of the Afghan people has been smeared by killers who pose as soldiers and police".
So far in 2012, there have been 29 attacks reported on foreign troops by Afghans they are training, compared to 11 attacks in 2011, according to an Associated Press count, and five attacks in each of the previous two years.
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|William A. Cook|