Two Romanian NATO soldiers killed in Afghan insider attack

Two Romanian NATO soldiers of the Resolute Support mission killed and one wounded by insider Afghan police in Kandahar.

Photo by: ISAF
Photo by: ISAF

Command Sergeant Major, Delbert D. Byers, salutes during the presentation of the Resolute Support Colors at the Change of Mission Ceremony in Kabul.

Two members of the Romanian special forces in Afghanistan were killed and one was injured on Saturday when two members of a local police unit opened fire on them before they themselves were killed, officials said.

The Romanian defence ministry said in a statement that the incident took place while the special forces members were training the Afghan police in the southern city of Kandahar.

The attack came after Lieutenant General John Nicholson, who is the commander of the Resolute Support mission (RS) of NATO, planned to cut the number of US troops in Afghanistan by next year, almost in half. 

So-called "green-on-blue" insider attacks by Afghan troops on international service members have occurred periodically over the years but have become much less frequent as a result of improved security measures.

But a statement from the NATO-led international coalition that provides assistance in Afghanistan said the incident would not have an effect on its training and advisory mission with Afghan forces.

"We continue to train, advise and assist the ANDSF (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) and do not view this incident as representative of the positive relationship between our forces," the statement said.

Samim Khpalwak, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, confirmed the shooting and said one Afghan policeman had been arrested and was being questioned.

Romania is the fifth highest contributor of soldiers to the nearly 12,500 troops in the RS mission, with a contribution of 588 soldiers. The United States leads with its contribution of 6,961 troops to the RS mission. Also, the US contributes 9,800 troops to Afghanistan, however it plans to reduce this number to 5,500 by the start of 2017.

But there has been growing speculation that Nicholson could recommend delaying the drawdown in order to keep the training mission going.

NATO in Afghanistan

NATO’s main aim in Afghanistan is to enable the national authorities to provide security and to end the actions of militants in the country.

For more than 11 years starting from 2003, NATO led the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) -130,000 strong with troops from 51 NATO and partner nations- and conducted operations to build up and to train the Afghan security forces.

In December 2014, ISAF ended its operations and the Afghans assumed full responsibility of security.

But in January 2015, NATO launched the new non-combat RS mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces and institutions. RS mission’s presence will be sustained through 2016.

After the end of the RS mission, NATO will maintain a civilian-led presence in Afghan institutions to become self-sufficient. However, NATO will continue to provide financial support until the end of 2017 and is currently working to ensure support through 2020.

TRTWorld and agencies