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Four American soldiers and an Afghan police officer have been killed in southern Afghanistan following an attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police, NATO's military mission in that country says.|
The latest "insider" attack took place on Sunday morning, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.
The attack took place at the district headquarters in the Mizan district of Zabul province, and was carried out by several Afghan men dressed in police uniforms, the deputy governor's office told Al Jazeera.
The four soldiers were found dead and two wounded when a response team arrived at the scene from a nearby checkpoint, a spokesman for the coalition said.
One of the six members of the Afghan National Police (ANP) operating the observation post with six coalition troops was also found dead, while the other five had disappeared. "The fighting had stopped by the time the responders arrived," said Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the NATO-led coalition.
"Insider" attacks rising
It was unclear if the police officer who was killed was one of the attackers, Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith in Kabul reported.
ISAF said that the attack was "under investigation".
All six casualties were understood to be members of the US special forces, Smith reported.
At least 51 foreign military personnel have been killed in insider attacks, where men dressed as members of the Afghan security forces have attacked foreign forces, in Afghanistan this year.
Two British soldiers died in a similar attack on Saturday in the southern province of Helmand.
There have been more than 30 such attacks so far this year. Most of the casualties have been US soldiers.
Afghanistan's defence ministry said earlier this month that it had arrested or sacked hundreds of Afghan soldiers for suspected links to the Taliban or other anti-state fighters.
Afghan and NATO officials say, however, that about 75 per cent of the attacks are not connected to the Taliban and are mostly triggered by misunderstandings and cultural differences among the Afghans and their Western allies.
Kate Clark, a Kabul-based analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), told Al Jazeera that insider attacks "strike right at the heart of what ISAF and NATO are trying to do [in Afghanistan]".
"I think as such the Taliban are one part of the problem. Mullah Omar in a recent message marking the occasion of the end of Ramadan actually called on his fighters to specifically target the foreign military in this way. But there's also the attacks arising from the friction between people from different nations fighting or training together," she said.
She said that the scale of the coalition's training effort for the Afghan security forces creates definite vulnerabilities.
"And the very speed of that training programme, the vastness of it [with] tens of thousands of men being trained, means that I think it's been difficult to keep a handle on it. It's a vulnerable place where people with malintent can get close to the foreign forces," she said.