Three Australians killed in latest Afghan ‘insider attack’

The three Australian soldiers were killed and two were wounded when an Afghan soldier who was working as a night guard at the base opened fire at close range, the AP reported. NATO soldiers returned fire but the attacker escaped.

The green-on-blue violence, which is also now called “insider attacks,” has hampered the NATO effort to train and transition security control to Afghan forces. There has been a big spike in the insider attacks this year, particularly over the past month.

Most of the troops killed in the attacks have been American. But an attack earlier this year that left four French troops dead prompted French President François Hollande to plan for withdrawing French troops from Afghanistan early.

NATO has stepped up its efforts to stem the green-on-blue attacks, ordering troops to be armed at all times and planning to improve vetting efforts for Afghan soldiers and police.

The United States plans to hand off security control to the Afghans in 2014 and to let Afghan troops take the combat lead in operations next year.

Gillard said that the deaths Thursday would not lead Australia to hasten its withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the AP.

“Our strategy is well-defined, our strategy is constant. And we cannot allow even the most grievous of losses to change our strategy,” Gillard said. “We are there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”