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NATO contractor killed in Afghan 'insider attack': officials
by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) March 8, 2013

Dutch police trainers to quit Afghanistan earlier: Rutte
The Hague (AFP) March 08, 2013 - Dutch military trainers will withdraw earlier than planned from their mission in war-torn Afghanistan's Kunduz province, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced Friday, saying local forces were ready to take over.

"We have decided to end the training mission on July 1," Rutte told journalists at his weekly post-cabinet press conference.

"The Afghans are ready sooner than planned to take responsibility for police training in Kunduz," he said.

Rutte stressed some 200 other members of the 545-strong Dutch deployment in Afghanistan will remain as planned until next year, mainly at the northern base of Mazar-e-Sharif, where four Dutch F-16 fighter planes are stationed.

The jets are used to find roadside bombs and boost security on the ground.

Around 1,950 Dutch troops were deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mainly in the central Uruzgan province, for four years until their withdrawal in August 2010 after a mission that claimed the lives of 24 Dutch soldiers.

The withdrawal was sparked by a political row back in the Netherlands over the troops' continuous deployment to the conflict-ridden area.

But Dutch lawmakers in early 2011 endorsed a proposal to send a new group of military personnel to Afghanistan including the police trainers, who arrived there in June of that year.

The bulk of NATO's 100,000 combat soldiers are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but many Afghans remain uncertain about the country's future.

More than 3,200 NATO soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

A NATO civilian contractor was killed by three people wearing Afghan security force uniforms on Friday in the latest suspected "insider attack" to target the international military coalition.

"The civilian died when three individuals wearing Afghan uniforms and driving an Afghan security force vehicle forced their way into the base in eastern Afghanistan," a spokesman for the NATO-led force said.

The spokesman said that all three of the attackers were killed by Afghan and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) troops but added that no other details were available as an assessment of the attack was still under way.

Afghan officials, who declined to be named, said the incident occurred in the Tagab district of Kapisa province.

NATO soldiers are fighting alongside Afghan colleagues to thwart Taliban militants, but more than 60 foreign soldiers were killed in 2012 in "insider attacks" that have bred mistrust and threatened to derail the training process.

If the attackers are confirmed to be Afghan soldiers or police, it would be the first insider attack since January when a British soldier was shot dead by an Afghan soldier in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

A text message from the Taliban did not claim responsibility for Friday's attack but claimed that two Afghan army soldiers had killed nine American soldiers.

The militants regularly exaggerate death tolls and NATO officials say that most "insider attacks" stem from personal grudges and cultural misunderstandings rather than Taliban plots.

The threat of insider attacks has become so serious that foreign soldiers working with Afghan forces are regularly watched over by so-called "guardian angel" troops to provide protection.

Afghan soldiers and police are taking on responsibility for battling the militants from 100,000 NATO troops who will leave by the end of next year -- more than a decade after a US-led invasion brought down the Taliban regime.


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Knife attack in China's Xinjiang kills 4: government
Beijing (AFP) March 8, 2013
Several knife-wielding attackers killed four people and wounded eight others in China's ethnically-divided western region of Xinjiang, a government official said on Friday. Regional spokeswoman Hou Hanmin said the attackers were members of the Uighur ethnic group. They often have tense relations with the millions of Han Chinese who have moved to the region in search of jobs. The attack o ... read more

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