Skip to main content

3 Australian troops killed in 'green-on-blue' attack; 2 in Afghan chopper crash

From John Dear, CNN
updated 9:38 PM EDT, Thu August 30, 2012
A French soldier watches the valley in the Tora Forward Operating Base.
A French soldier watches the valley in the Tora Forward Operating Base.
  • NEW: This is our single worst day in Afghanistan," Prime Minister Julia Gillard says
  • The soldiers were "relaxing and talking" when the first incident occurs
  • The other two die when their helicopter crashes during landing
  • "Morale at the moment has taken a hit," an official says

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- In separate incidents within the span of a day, five Australian troops were killed in Afghanistan: three in an apparent "green-on-blue" attack and two in a helicopter crash, officials said Thursday.

"This is our single worst day in Afghanistan," Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

In the first incident, someone wearing an Afghan National Army uniform shot and killed three soldiers inside their base in southern Uruzgan province late Wednesday

Two others were wounded.

Pentagon: Afghans killing U.S. troops

The soldiers were in a group "relaxing and talking" at the end of the day when the incident occurred, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, the acting chief of the Australian Defence Force, told reporters

U.S. facing growing 'green-on-blue' challenge

Other soldiers returned fire, but the shooter escaped by scaling a fence, Binskin said.

The deaths bring to 14 the number of NATO troops who have been killed in August alone in such "green-on-blue" attacks.

The other two Australian soldiers were killed when the International Security Assistance Force helicopter they were riding in crashed while trying to land in Helmand province Thursday morning.

"It appears that the helicopter has landed and rolled over, and that's all I know at the moment," Binskin said, adding there was no indication that enemy action was to blame.

Until now, Australia had suffered only one military fatality in Afghanistan in 2012.

"I think morale at the moment has taken a hit over this understandably," Binskin said.

Earlier this year, Australia said it would pull out its more than 1,500 troops from Afghanistan ahead of schedule.

There has been a recent surge in "green-on-blue" attacks, or insider attacks in the country.

The term refers to a color coding system used by the military, in which blue refers to the friendly force, in this case ISAF; and green refers to an allied friendly forces, in this case Afghan National Security Forces.

Concerned about the uptick, U.S. Gen. John Allen, ISAF's chief commander, ordered all allied forces at NATO headquarters in Kabul and all bases across Afghanistan earlier this month to carry loaded weapons around the clock.

General: Quarter of Afghan insider attacks by Taliban

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama said he is "deeply concerned" about the growing number of deadly attacks on U.S. forces by Afghan security forces.

Obama said he would talk to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to try and stop these attacks.

A paper weapon to defend against 'green on blue' attacks

CNN's Ab Qadir Sediqi in Kabul contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:58 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
She was to be married off to pay for her father's debt -- here's her story.
updated 3:23 PM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
One music producer hopes to get out Afghanistan's youth vote with a song competition. CNN's Sherisse Pham reports.
updated 8:11 AM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Despite threats from the Taliban, Afghans turned out in large numbers to cast their vote for a new president and future.
updated 1:27 AM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
It was not too long ago -- in 2001, prior to the U.S. invasion -- that Afghanistan's women were all but entirely marginalized.
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Sun April 6, 2014
As Afghan voters prepare to go to the polls in a hugely important election, CNN looks at the main presidential candidates.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Despite the looming Taliban presence, Afghanistan could see its first democratic transfer of power, Peter Bergen writes.
updated 2:03 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
As the U.S. prepares to withdraw troops, an Afghan Army commander says America's support remains critical.
updated 9:35 PM EDT, Mon April 1, 2013
CNN's Anna Coren reports on how U.S. Special Forces are not just fighting terrorists in Afghanistan.
updated 5:24 AM EDT, Fri May 24, 2013
With U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, CNN's Anna Coren reports on a Taliban firefight lasting more than 90 minutes.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon April 1, 2013
Mallika Kapur has the story of a young Afghan graffiti artist who, despite Taliban threats, pushes for free expression.
For the first time, a Pakistan government served its full term and the lack of a military coup attempt shows government is more stable than many think.
updated 11:22 AM EST, Sat February 16, 2013
President Obama has revealed new details about the troop withdrawal. But there are several key issues that still must be resolved.
updated 7:35 AM EST, Mon February 11, 2013
Author William Dalrymple's new book "Return of a King" looks at the history of foreign-led wars in Afghanistan.'s 'Home and Away' initiative honors the lives of U.S. and coalition troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.