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Insider Attack Kills At Least Nine Afghan Troops

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in 2008
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in 2008

At least one member of an Afghan militia has shot dead nine of his fellow militiamen in what the Interior Ministry is calling an insider attack.

However, local sources and the Taliban said the number of those killed on December 14 was at least 24. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the attack was actually a coordinated militant assault on the checkpoint where the shooting took place.

Details were sketchy and investigators were still looking into the attack in central Ghazni Province's Karabagh district, Defense Ministry deputy spokesman Fawad Aman said. The number of attackers was also not immediately clear.

Afghan militias are under the command of the country's National Security Forces, which suffer near daily Taliban attacks.

The Taliban reportedly controls or holds sway over half the country.

In the past two years, dozens of Afghan security forces have been killed by the Taliban in such attacks in various districts of Ghazni, according to officials.

U.S. and NATO troops have been the main target of insider attacks, but Afghan security forces have also been targeted.

Two U.S. troops were killed by an Afghan soldier in the southern Kandahar Province in July. The perpetrator was wounded and arrested.

Also in Kandahar, two months later, three U.S. military personnel were wounded when a member of the Afghan Civil Order Police opened fire on a military convoy.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held several days of meetings with Taliban representatives in Qatar since December 7. The Taliban maintains a political office in Qatar.

It was his first such direct contact between Khalilzad and the militant group since President Donald Trump halted negotiations three months ago following a deadly wave of Taliban attacks, including a Kabul suicide bombing that killed an American soldier.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Tolo News
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