Pentagon chief Leon Panetta urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday to crack down on a rise in attacks by Afghan security personnel on their Western colleagues, officials said.
U.S. concern is mounting over the unprecedented number of such “green-on-blue” attacks, which have now killed 39 international troops in 29 such incidents so far this year, according to NATO figures.
During a telephone call, Panetta and Karzai “expressed shared concern” over the challenge of insider attacks against coalition and Afghan forces, Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
The pair “agreed that American and Afghan officials should work even more closely together to minimize the potential for insider attacks in the future,” he added.
Panetta also encouraged Karzai to work closely with General John Allen, who heads the international coalition force ISAF in Afghanistan.
Karzai’s collaboration was needed to “further strengthen ISAF-Afghan cooperation to counter the insider attack threat, including augmented counterintelligence measures, even more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits, and stepped up engagement with village elders, who often play a key role by vouching for Afghan security personnel,” the statement said.
Concern over insider attacks mounted Friday, when two Afghan security personnel opened fire on Western colleagues, killing two U.S. soldiers and causing a number of other casualties in two separate attacks.
The attacks further eroded trust between foreign troops and the Afghans they work with, a week after six American troops were killed in a single day by their local colleagues.
The two Americans were killed in western Farah province, NATO’s U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said. ISAF also confirmed that an unspecified number of foreign and Afghan soldiers were shot and wounded by an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Kandahar.
Panetta said he was “very concerned” about the insider attacks and the impact they are having on cooperation with Afghan allies.
The attacks will likely add to pressure in NATO nations for an exit as soon as possible from the increasingly unpopular war now nearly 11 years old.
[image via Agence France-Presse]
England pubs reopen on US Independence Day — after first nationwide closure since 1665’s Great Plague
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"It feels amazing," said Leo Richard Bill, a soldier, after getting through the door of one of London's buzziest restaurants on the Thames River's popular south bank.
"It’s been what, like three months since... me and everyone else haven’t been able to get outside and have a good time. So yeah, it feels good to get amongst it," he said.
Parts of London and other cities, deserted during lockdown, sprang to life as people dressed up and came out for "Super Saturday" -- the day England's hospitality sector reopened for the first time since March.
Trump’s angry words and Coronavirus surge darken Independence Day weekend in America
The United States marked an unusually somber Independence Day on Saturday, with President Donald Trump bashing domestic opponents and China -- but praising the country's coronavirus response, despite a record surge in cases.
Across the country, virus fears dampened or nixed Main Street parades, backyard barbecues and family reunions on a day when Americans typically celebrate their 1776 declaration of independence from Britain.
Instead of adopting a unifying tone, Trump -- facing a tough re-election and eager to mobilize his political base -- railed against protesters demanding racial justice after unarmed African American George Floyd was killed by a white police officer.
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President Donald Trump appears to have lost the support of one of his most well-known Black supporters as Kanye West announced on Saturday that he is running for president.
“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” West posted on Twitter, with the hashtag #2020VISION.
The musician was mocked for his presidential bid, here's some of what people were saying: