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Reports Conflict On 'Insider Attack' In Afghanistan

Update 10:22 a.m. ET: Not Necessarily An Insider Attack

According to a ISAF statement, the attack that killed a NATO service member and a civilian contractor in Afghanistan on Saturday may not have been an insider attack, as originally reported.

In the statement, the International Security Assistance Force says:

"What was initially reported to have been a suspected Insider Attack is now understood to possibly have involved insurgent fire. The incident occurred while an ISAF unit was manning a temporary check point in an area near an Afghan National Army unit. According to ISAF and ANA reporting, after a short conversation took place between ANA and ISAF personnel firing occurred which resulted in the fatal wounding of an ISAF soldier and the death of his civilian colleague. In an ensuing exchange of fire three ANA personnel are reported to have died."

Our Original Story Continues:

A NATO service member died after a "suspected insider attack" in eastern Afghanistan Saturday, the NATO-led coalition there reports. A press release from the International Security Assistance Force says one of the force's civilian contractors and Afghan National Army members also died. Afghan officials say both the contractor and service member are American.

A string of insider attacks over the past few months poses one of the greatest threats to NATO's mission in the country, endangering a partnership key to training Afghan security forces and enabling the withdrawal of international troops.

Saturday's shooting took place at an Afghan army checkpoint just outside a joint U.S.-Afghan base in Wardak province, government spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told The Associated Press. At least two Afghan soldiers died.

"Initial reports indicate that a misunderstanding happened between Afghan army soldiers and American soldiers," he said. Shahid said investigators had been sent to the site to try to figure out what happened. It was not clear if the assailant was killed.

Afghan soldiers and policemen — or militants in their uniforms — have gunned down more than 50 foreign troops so far this year, eroding the trust between coalition forces and their Afghan partners. An equal number of Afghan policemen and soldiers also died in these attacks, giving them reason to be suspicious of possible infiltrators within their ranks.

The growing insider attacks have prompted Gen. John Allen to tighten security for U.S. troops in the country. Hundreds of Afghan soldiers have been arrested or discharged due to incomplete or forged documents, and the training of about 1,000 Afghan police recruits was suspended at the beginning of the month.

This report contains material from The Associated Press

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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