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Nato serviceman killed in Helmand

An Afghan soldier has shot and killed a Nato service member in southern Afghanistan, officials revealed, the latest in a string of similar attacks that have raised concerns about relations between Afghan troops and foreign allies.

International forces and the Afghan army disagreed on exactly what happened.

Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the international military force, said Afghan soldiers detained the gunman after he attacked Nato troops.

Afghan National Army commander Sayed Malluk confirmed the shooting happened during a night patrol in Helmand province's Marjah district. But he said the Afghan soldier, who has been in the army for more than two years, told investigators the shooting was an accident.

This is the sixth report since December 26 of an Afghan soldier - or an insurgent posing as one - turning his weapon on the international troops working to train the Afghan security forces.

The rising number of attacks by supposed friendly Afghan forces has prompted speculation that Taliban insurgents or sympathisers may be infiltrating the national army and police as they rapidly expand to meet a 2014 target for Afghan forces to take over security and most international troops to leave.

The attack brought the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 34.

Meanwhile, a military report based on the interrogation of thousands of Taliban prisoners shows that the insurgents believe they are poised to return to power after the US-led coalition ends its combat role in Afghanistan in 2014, according to a Nato official.

The prisoners also claim the Taliban retain wide public support throughout Afghanistan, particularly in the countryside, the official said.

The document was not based on any intelligence analysis of the situation on the ground but is a summary of thousands of interrogation reports, the official said. "It's a very lopsided perspective because some of them are motivated to portray the picture in their favour," the official added.

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