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Afghanistan fires hundreds of troops over insider attacks

By Josh Levs, CNN
updated 11:46 AM EDT, Thu September 6, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: ISAF official says "entire leadership of Afghanistan" is committed to stopping attacks
  • 35 attacks this year have killed 45 people, International Security Assistance Force says
  • 76 attacks since 2007 have killed 114 people, ISAF says
  • 2 died Wednesday in a copter crash, and a Taliban leader was killed Tuesday, Afghanistan says

(CNN) -- Afghanistan has fired hundreds of troops as part of its investigation of insider attacks, the country announced Wednesday.

"Based on our investigations, hundreds of Afghan army soldiers have been detained and sacked from the army over the incident of insider attacks," said Gen. Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

The country launched investigations in coordination with international forces, he said. "This is a big concern for the Afghan president and the Afghan Defense Ministry."

U.S. Special Operations Forces have suspended the training of some police recruits while they double-check the background of the current police force, NATO's International Security Assistance Force announced Sunday.

The moves follow a growing number of attacks on NATO troops by people dressed as Afghan police or soldiers.

Training halt after green-on-blue attack
Pentagon: Afghans killing U.S. troops
Special Ops troops lured then killed

This year, 35 such attacks have killed 45 people, U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the ISAF, told CNN on Wednesday.

3 Australian troops killed in 'green-on-blue' attack

Since the first known attack in 2007, 114 people have been killed in a total of 76 attacks, Wojack said.

"The entire leadership of Afghanistan is seized by this and committed to stopping it, from the president on down." Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of ISAF Joint Command, said Wednesday.

Steps are being taken to increase "our vetting and screening efforts," he added.

Authorities believe only one in four of such attacks are related to the insurgency. The rest are the result of personal grievances, or the causes haven't been determined, Terry said.

It's too soon to say how significant Afghanistan's decision to fire so many troops will be, analyst Gareth Price with the think tank Chatham House said Wednesday.

"It's the first time something like this has happened," he said.

Coalition steps up fight against 'green-on-blue' attacks

After many of the attacks, investigators have found that the attackers' "documents were flawed or not adequately vetted," Price noted. So the firings could be a chance to slow down the process, he said.

Also, it may be "the Afghans showing that they're doing something" about the attacks, Price said.

U.S. and Afghan officials emphasize that the attackers are just a few among the tens of thousands of Afghan troops and soldiers working alongside international forces.

'Green on blue' violence hits home

Also on Wednesday, two coalition service members died after a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan, the ISAF said.

And in its morning operational update Wednesday, the ISAF said a Taliban leader behind an attack on a coalition base in Logar province on August 7 was killed by Afghan and coalition security forces Tuesday. The leader was identified by the name Bismullah.

Read more about Afghanistan on the Security Clearance blog

CNN's Anna Coren in Kabul contributed to this report.

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