KABUL (Reuters) - The Afghan army has detained or
sacked hundreds of soldiers for having links to insurgents, the Defence
Ministry said on Wednesday, as it tries to stem an alarming number of
so-called insider attacks eroding trust between Afghans and their
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed strong
concern over the attacks, in which Afghan servicemen have killed at
least 45 NATO-force troops this year, including 15 in August, compared
with 35 for all of last year.
"Hundreds were sacked or detained after showing links
with insurgents. In some cases we had evidence against them, in others
we were simply suspicious," Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told
reporters in Kabul.
"Using an army uniform against foreign forces is a
serious point of concern not only for the Defence Ministry but for the
whole Afghan government," Azimi said, adding that President Hamid Karzai
had ordered Afghan forces to devise ways to stop insider attacks.
Azimi declined to say whether the detained and fired
soldiers were from the Taliban stronghold areas of the south and east.
They were from all over the country, he said.
He said his Ministry started an investigation into the
attacks, which are also called green-on-blue attacks, within the
195,000-strong Afghan army six months ago.
Rasmussen, in an interview with Reuters this week, said
NATO, which trains the army and police, had strengthened vetting
procedures to try to exclude suspect recruits and was ready to take
further steps if necessary, though he gave no details.
He dismissed any suggestion that the rogue attacks
would lead to more members of the NATO-led force pulling out early from
an increasingly unpopular and costly war that has dragged on with few
obvious signs of success since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
But tension is simmering. The shooting dead of three
Australian troops by an Afghan army sergeant in the south last week
prompted a deadly raid to find the rogue soldier, causing a war of words
between Canberra and Kabul.
The approximately 150,000-strong Afghan National
Police, whose members have also carried out rogue attacks, operates
separately from the army under the Ministry of Interior.
U.S. forces said on Sunday they had suspended training
new recruits to the 16,000-strong Afghan Local Police, a militia
separate from the police, following the spike in insider attacks.
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