AN officer academy in Afghanistan, modelled on Sandhurst and run by the British Army, has been dealt a severe blow to morale after a security guard was shot dead in row over a confiscated laptop.
The Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul only opened last week but is already embroiled in controversy over security concerns, after an Afghan security guard opened fire on Australian and New Zealand soldiers, wounding three, before being shot dead.
The incident took place on Saturday when an Afghan soldier guarding the perimeter of the academy confiscated a laptop computer from a driver.
A group of Australian and New Zealand soldiers then attempted to get the computer back, but during the row that followed the soldiers swore at the Afghan guard who responded by shooting one of the Australian soldiers in the chest.
The bullet shattered off his body armour then struck and wounded two other soldiers, one Australian and the other from New Zealand.
The Afghan soldier was then shot dead.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Afghan ministry of defence said: “There was an argument between an Afghan and foreign soldier inside a military base . . . where they opened fire on each other. An investigation is ongoing.”
The fatal shooting could be extremely damaging to Britain’s future ties to the country as the officer academy is set to be the UK’s only military legacy to Afghanistan after British troops are withdrawn from the country at the end of combat operations next year.
In June, Nato handed over security for Afghanistan to Afghan forces, but 97,000 foreign troops remain in the country.
According to current plans, all combat troops are expected to leave by the end of 2014, to be replaced by a much smaller force, including soldiers from Turkey, Germany and Italy, who will only train and advise the Afghan army.
However, insider attacks have been on the rise in recent months, with at least five reported since 21 September, compared to 11 incidents since the start of the year.
A flurry of attacks last year prompted the coalition to briefly suspend joint military operations, a cornerstone of its mission, and adopt measures limiting interaction between troops.
In 2012, attacks by Afghan servicemen on their Nato colleagues accounted for around 15 per cent of casualties to international troops.
“If it gets worse it’ll make the coalition plan for post-2014 come apart pretty quick,” said an army strategist working on the proposals.
Most foreign combat troops are due to leave by the end of next year, but a small mission may remain in Afghanistan to continue supporting its newly-formed military and police forces.
Afghanistan and the United States have not yet agreed on several issues in a bilateral security pact and Washington has threatened to pull out its troops next year unless differences are ironed out soon.
Two years ago, the US ended its military mission in Iraq with a similar “zero option” outcome after the failure of talks with Baghdad authorities.