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Afghan 'soldier' fires on troops

A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform has opened fire on coalition troops in western Afghanistan, military authorities said.

Several Nato troops were wounded in the shooting and the gunman was killed.

Nato and Afghan authorities are investigating the shooting, which took place on Saturday at an outpost in Bala Boluk district, about 340 miles west of Kabul, said Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

A Nato statement said there were no fatalities among alliance soldiers, adding that it was its policy not to comment on other casualties. An official said several coalition troops were wounded in the shooting. He said the man who opened fire was later killed by the Nato troops.

If the probe confirms the gunman was a soldier, the shooting would be the latest in a series of attacks by Afghans against coalition partners. Those shootings have raised fears of Taliban infiltration as Nato speeds up the training of Afghan security forces.

The expansion of the army and police is a critical element in Nato's exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Coalition troops are to end their combat role in 2014, and the goal is to have 195,000 trained Afghan troops in service by next October. Afghan security forces have already started taking the lead in several regions as part of the process that will put them in charge of security across the nation by the end of 2014.

Commanders of Nato's training mission have said that coalition and Afghan forces keep a sharp eye out for possible Taliban infiltrators at the recruitment, training and deployment stages.

Military officials estimate the number of insurgents at between 20,000 and 25,000 men. Although outnumbered, the Taliban have mounted a series of high-profile attacks that have brought into question Nato's claim that it has the upper hand in the war and that violence is decreasing.

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