Afghan colonel killed in 'insider attack' near US forces

Afghan security personnel search passengers at a highway checkpoint in Ghazni, capital of the restive Ghazi province (AFP Photo/ZAKERIA HASHIMI)

American troops opened fire after an "enemy insider" shot and killed an Afghan commander in central Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said, in yet another deadly Taliban-claimed infiltration.

According to the Afghan defence ministry, Colonel Mateen Mujtaba, who headed the 3rd army division in Ghazni province, was conducting a security assessment in Qarabagh district when an Afghan soldier started shooting.

Mateen was "killed by an army soldier who was in fact an enemy insider," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"The attacker was also killed when soldiers returned fire."

The Taliban claimed the attack, saying US soldiers had also been killed.

Resolute Support, the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, said no US or coalition troops had been killed or wounded, but declined to comment further.

According to Amanullah Kamrani, a member of the Ghazni provincial council, Mateen was boarding a helicopter after a meeting with US advisors when he was attacked.

"The attacker was killed when Americans returned fire," Kamrani told AFP.

Insider attacks, sometimes referred to as "green on green," are a constant threat in Afghanistan.

In October, powerful police chief General Abdul Raziq was among three people killed in a brazen insider attack on a high-level security meeting in Kandahar.

The meeting was also attended by General Scott Miller, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

He escaped unhurt, but US Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 people wounded in the shooting, which the Taliban said had targeted Miller and Raziq.