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NATO official: Afghan handover on schedule

Jan. 8, 2013 at 4:49 PM   |   Comments

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- "Green-on-blue" attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against members of NATO forces will not slow down the handover, NATO officials said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force,told a Kabul news conference Afghan forces are in charge in at least 80 percent of operations in 23 of the 34 provinces, Voice of America reported. He said by the end of the year the entire country "will be in the transition process."

"What we see is that all the districts that are in the transition process already gained security and the fighting is decreasing, and the security situation is becoming more and more stable," Katz said.

In 2012, there were 45 attacks by uniformed members of Afghan security forces on NATO soldiers with 61 victims. Most of the victims were from the United States, which has by far the largest force in Afghanistan.

A man believed to be a member of the Afghan National Army Monday killed a British soldier in Helmand province and wounded several other people. Katz said the attack was aimed at both British and Afghan troops.

The gunman was killed.

Officials said the British soldier, a member of the 28 Engineer Regiment attached to the 21 Engineer Regiment, died at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district, the BBC reported.

"This is an extremely sad day for the Corps of Royal Engineers and everyone serving with Task Force Helmand," said Maj. Laurence Roche, a task force spokesman. "Our thoughts are with the soldier's family and friends at this time."

Taliban militants said they were behind the shooting and the attacker was their agent, a claim Afghan officials dispute.

Afghan defense officials told the BBC preliminary information indicated the gunman was a soldier from Laghman province.

"Currently there is an investigation into the attack," one official said. "Initial assessment and information shows the attacker was not linked to the Taliban."

The attack occurred as Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to travel to Washington for a three-day visit, including a meeting with President Obama Friday.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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