Gunman kills NATO service member

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A gunman, possibly a private security guard, shot dead a member of the U.S.-led international coalition in southern Afghanistan on Saturday before himself being killed, NATO said.

A coalition statement blamed the shooting on an “alleged contracted security guard.” It did not say if he was an Afghan or foreign national and provided no other details. It also did not provide the service member’s nationality.

“The scene of the incident is secure and the suspected gunman has been killed,” the statement said. It added that coalition and “Afghan officials are assessing the incident and more information will be released as appropriate.”

The perimeters of many coalition facilities, embassies and international organizations are guarded by Afghan guards contracted from a government agency that provides such services. Internal security at many facilities is provided by foreign guards contracted from multi-national security corporations.

Last year also saw a spike in “insider attacks” by uniformed Afghans against foreign soldiers and civilians. In some cases, militants have donned Afghan army or police uniforms to attack foreign troops, but a number have been carried out by members of Afghan security forces against their own comrades.

The coalition also said that one of its service members died of a non-battle related injury in the south. It provided no other details.

The two deaths bring the total among foreign forces to 128 so far this year, of which 98 are from the United States.

Earlier, and Afghan official said a NATO strike in the country’s east killed five civilians, but the U.S.-led coalition said that it targeted insurgents and that its initial reports indicate no civilian casualties.

Lt. Col. Will Griffin, a spokesman for the coalition, said that the late Friday attack in Nangarhar province, near an airport used by NATO forces, was dealt with using a “precision coordinated strike.”

Provincial spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said the strike killed five civilians. He did not provide any more details about the circumstances.

Afghan and NATO officials regularly differ as to whether civilians have been hit in attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has made denunciations of reported civilian deaths in airstrikes a pillar of his political strategy.

Insurgents have increased attacks in recent months as they intensify a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces drawdown ahead of a full withdrawal at the end of 2014.

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