A checkpoint shooting in eastern Afghanistan has taken the US military’s death toll in the war past 2,000.
A US soldier and contractor were killed while three Afghan soldiers died and several were injured.
The new deaths occurred on Saturday in Wardak province.
The international mission, ISAF, initially said the soldier was believed to have been killed by a member of the Afghan security services, but it later said the circumstances were unclear.
What is known is that a firefight took place, after what ISAF described as a short conversation between coalition and Afghan soldiers.
ISAF says “insurgent fire” may have been involved in the incident, which is now under investigation by a joint Afghan and coalition team.
The American death toll goes back to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Sunday’s incident took place at a checkpoint near an Afghan National Army base in the district of Sayedabad, according to Afghan officials.
Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman, earlier told the Associated Press news agency that an Afghan soldier had turned his gun on Americans and started shooting.
“Initial reports indicate that a misunderstanding happened between Afghan army soldiers and American soldiers,” he said.
But ISAF later said an American soldier and an American contractor, along with three Afghan soldiers, were killed in an exchange of fire in confusing circumstances that may have involved insurgent activity.
ISAF’s deputy commander, Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw, said: “The circumstances were somewhat confused and we are establishing the full facts to the extent that it is possible.”
Military officials from both sides have launched a joint investigation.
The figure of 2,000 deaths was given by US officials on Sunday. During the war in Iraq, 4,409 American soldiers were killed.
As of 27 September, the Pentagon’s official military death toll for Afghanistan had stood at 1,996.
The count includes both soldiers killed in action and soldiers who died of their injuries in hospital. The figure also covers 339 non-combat deaths.
A report by the Brookings Institution estimates that 40.2% of US deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices and 30.3% by gun attacks.
Officially, at least 17,644 US soldiers have been wounded in action in Afghanistan.
The independent organization iCasualties estimates a higher US death toll, recording 2,125 to date.
This same source reports 1,066 deaths of non-US members of the coalition in Afghanistan.
It is more difficult to establish the Afghan toll in the war but most estimates calculate a minimum of 20,000 civilian deaths, AP notes.
Some 10,000 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed. No reliable figures exist for deaths among the Taliban and other insurgents.
NATO combat troops are set to withdraw by the end of 2014, but a central plank of the strategy is that foreign soldiers will serve alongside and train Afghans for many years to come.
Correspondents say that may not be realistic given the ever increasing number of Afghans who turn their weapons on their foreign allies.
NATO announces that it is restricting operations with Afghan troops following a string of deadly attacks on its personnel by rogue Afghan security forces.
Only large operations will now be conducted jointly, with joint patrols evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
ISAF said these were “prudent, but temporary, measures to reduce our profile and vulnerability”.
NATO commanders have been frustrated that the Afghans have not done more to stem the rise in attacks, analysts say.
The moves came as a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying foreigners in the capital, killing 12 people on Tuesday morning.
The attack happened on a major road leading to the international airport and reports suggest those on board worked at the airport.
Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami has claimed it carried out the attack, which it says was in response to a recent anti-Islam video.
NATO announces that it is restricting operations with Afghan troops following a string of deadly attacks on its personnel by rogue Afghan security forces
Meanwhile NATO-led ISAF forces said they had arrested a Taliban leader and two insurgents they said were involved in an attack on the sprawling Camp Bastion in southern Helmand province.
They said the leader was suspected of “providing support” to the militants who staged the audacious assault, killing two US marines and destroying six Harrier fighter jets.
The joint command of NATO-led ISAF international forces cited “events outside of and inside Afghanistan” related to the film as part of the reason for its restrictions on joint operations.
Afghanistan has seen days of protests over the video, some violent.
Those, along with the surge in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks, had prompted the new restrictions, ISAF said.
Fifty-one NATO troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers so far this year – 15 in August alone. In 2008, just two soldiers died in such attacks – though ISAF and Afghan force numbers have also increased substantially in the period.
Four US soldiers and two UK soldiers died in rogue attacks at the weekend. A fifth of UK soldiers killed this year in Afghanistan were killed not by insurgents, but by Afghan soldiers or police.
Joint operations will now only be conducted routinely at battalion level – large operations involving several hundred troops.
“This does not mean there will be no partnering below that level; the need for that will be evaluated on a case by case basis” but it will have to be approved by a two-star general, ISAF said in a statement.
It stressed the changes were temporary.
“In some local instances, operational tempo has been reduced, or force protection has been increased. These actions balance the tension of the recent video with force protection, while maintaining the momentum of the campaign,” ISAF said.
It insisted it remained “absolutely committed to partnering with, training, advising and assisting our ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] counterparts”.
In a news conference, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta told reporters he was concerned about the effect of insider attacks.
But he insisted they did not mean the Taliban was getting stronger or regaining lost territory.
He said the US would do all it could to minimize risks to its forces, but “we will not lose sight of the fundamental mission here, which is to continue to proceed to assure a peaceful transition to Afghan security and governance”.
In practical terms, US soldiers are already staying on their bases, while Afghans carry out patrols alone.
There has been enormous frustration among NATO commanders that Afghan officials have not been doing enough to prevent the rise in attacks, our correspondent says.
This shift is clearly aimed at sending a signal to the Afghan government that its measures for vetting new entrants to the Afghan army and police force must improve, they say.
But with 7,000 new recruits a month joining the Afghan army alone, it is very challenging to ensure Taliban militants do not slip through the net.
The Afghan ministry of defence said it had not been formally notified of the changes until a hurriedly convened meeting with NATO on Tuesday.
NATO’s move comes after a week of protests triggered by the anti-Islam film, produced in the US, which has caused a storm of anger around the Muslim world.
On Monday, hundreds of protesters threw rocks and torched police vehicles in an angry protest against the film in Kabul.
The AFP news agency said hundreds more staged a new protest in the northern city of Kunduz on Tuesday.
ISAF Joint Command – Afghanistan 2011-08-S-014 For Immediate Release
KABUL, Afghanistan (Aug. 6, 2011) – An International Security Assistance Force helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan today, and recovery operations are underway.
ISAF is still in the process of assessing the circumstances to determine the facts of the incident, reporting indicates there was enemy activity in the area.
Additional details will be released as appropriate.
ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update August 6, 2011
(C) ISAF Media - Helicopter in Aghanistan
At least 38 people were killed in the crash. There were seven Afghan nationals and 31 NATO service members aboard the crashed helicopter. The crashed helicopter was traveling through the Wardak province. This was all in A statement from President Hamid Karzai’s office, quoted by CNN.
A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed several insurgents during a security operation targeting a Taliban facilitator in Surkh Rod district, Nangarhar province, yesterday.
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NATO helicopter crash near Wardak Afghanistan
The facilitator has coordinated several attacks against the Afghan government and the Afghan National Army. Additionally, he is responsible for supplying roadside bomb components and ammunition to insurgents in the area.
Upon arriving in the district, the security force encountered a group of insurgents, armed with rocket propelled grenade launchers and AK-47 assault rifles. An exchange of fire initiated shortly after, resulting in several insurgents killed.
Photos made by 1st LT P.Babilas - Joint PRT,GIRoA and ANSF Long range patrol to LAL VA SANJARGAL (4)
In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:
In Arghandab district, Kandahar province, an Afghan and coalition combined security force detained two suspected insurgents yesterday while searching for a Taliban facilitator. The facilitator is responsible for planning and executing roadside bomb attacks against Afghan National Security Forces in Arghandab District.
In Qalat district, Zabul province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents during a security search for a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader is responsible for roadside bomb and direct fire attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces. He has also coordinated complex ambushes in the province.
During a security operation in Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force detained a Taliban leader and two suspected insurgents, yesterday. The leader directed insurgent attacks in the Nawa area of Spin Boldak.
In Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force detained several Taliban insurgents during a security operation, yesterday. The suspected insurgents were detained by Afghan forces for further questioning.
Also in the South, a combined Afghan and coalition security force killed an insurgent leader and several subordinate fighters during an exchange of small arms fire, in Nimroz province, Thursday.
The targeted leader had links to other senior insurgents across Helmand and Nimroz provinces, and was heavily involved in the production of improvised explosive devices.
Helicopter crashesd in Wardak, Eastern Afghanistan. An older video of the helicopter crash in Afghanistan shows what it looks like:
During a security operation in Zurmat district, Paktiya province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents yesterday while searching for a Haqqani network leader. The leader coordinates roadside bomb and direct attacks against the Afghan National Army.
In Terayzai district, Khost province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force conducted a security search for a Haqqani network facilitator yesterday, resulting in two suspected insurgents detained. The facilitator is involved in weapons distribution and roadside bomb construction.
In Ghazni district, Ghazni province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader oversees fighters and plans attacks against Afghan National Security Forces.
Also in the East, a combined Afghan and coalition force operation detained numerous insurgents in Maidan Shahr district, Wardak province, yesterday. The target of the operation was an IED cell leader responsible for numerous attacks against coalition forces in the district. The detained individuals were taken by Afghan authorities for processing and further questioning.
Finally, a combined Afghan and coalition force targeted an insurgent group during an operation in Kabul district, Kabul province, yesterday. Two insurgents were detained by Afghan authorities for further questioning.