Afghan authorities say they have cracked down on hundreds of soldiers believed to have links to the Taliban in a bid to crush the rise of alleged insider attacks.
The announcement was made on Wednesday after Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO chief, expressed his concerns to President Hamid Karzai over the recent increase in the so-called green-on-blue attacks.
At least 45 NATO-led soldiers have been killed by Afghan security personnel this year – an increase from 35 killings from last year.
According to a NATO spokeswoman, Rasmussen outlined measures taken by NATO-led forces to stop the insider attacks and urged Karzai to join the efforts,
The measures include strengthening vetting procedures, better counterintelligence and giving troops cultural awareness
Zahir Azimi, an Afghan defence ministry spokesman, said in Kabul that Karzai had ordered Afghan forces to devise ways to stop insider attacks.
“Hundreds were sacked or detained after showing links with insurgents. In some cases we had evidence against them, in others we were simply suspicious,” he said.
“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.”
Azmi refused to confirm whether the soldiers who had been detained and dismissed were from Taliban strongholds, in the south and east.
He emphasised that his ministry had begun an investigation into the so called green-on-blue attacks within the 195,000-strong Afghan army over six months ago.
US General John Allen, currently serving as commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, said he detected “no absence of commitment” by the Afghan government to counter rogue attacks.
He also said his troops were constantly taking new measures to counter the threat from rogue Afghan soldiers, who have been trained and armed by the US and other foreign forces.
Speaking at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Allen denied that the rogue attacks had shattered trust between Afghan and foreign forces but hinted at deep-seated problems.
“I believe the Afghan government is committed to doing this, again remembering it’s a government that is still building its capacity,” he said.
“We will seek to create… the opportunity for us if we see something going wrong, in terms of an insider beginning to reveal himself, that we are postured … to be able to take immediate action as necessary to defend the force.”