The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L) and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during their joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on December, 14, 2011
The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to curb the surge of attacks by Afghan forces on US-led foreign troops.
In a telephone conversation on Saturday, Panetta urged the Afghan president to cooperate with General John Allen, who heads the international coalition forces ISAF in Afghanistan, “to counter the insider attacks against coalition and Afghan forces.”
The top US defense official also advised the adoption of counterintelligence measures for identifying the potential assailants as well as "more rigorous vetting of Afghan recruits, and stepped up engagement with village elders, who often play a key role by vouching for Afghan security personnel," Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
The two officials “expressed shared concern” about the insider attacks against the foreign and Afghan forces, the statement added.
Panetta’s phone call signaled Washington’s growing concern over the increasing number of the so-called green-on-blue attacks by Afghan soldiers who turn their guns on American and foreign forces.
Panetta showed his first reaction to insider attacks on Tuesday, saying the growing attacks on foreign troopers by local forces would damage the two countries' partnership.
At least 39 US-led forces have been killed in 29 such incidents so far this year in Afghanistan, according to a NATO count.
In the latest incident, an Afghan policeman killed two American forces in the western Farah province on Friday.
In another incident on the same day, two American troopers were wounded by an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Kandahar.
Some analysts believe that the humiliation and maltreatment of Afghan soldiers by American officers is the main reason behind the green-on-blue attacks in the war-ravaged country.
Thousands of NATO troops, due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, are still in the country under the pretext of ‘training and working alongside Afghan soldiers’ in anti-insurgency campaign.