Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces, confirmed late on Saturday that the casualties took place in the Sherzad district of eastern Nangarhar Province after an individual in “Afghan uniform” opened fire on combined American and Afghan forces conducting a joint patrol in the area.
“Upon completing a key-leader engagement at the district center, current reports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined US and Afghan force with a machine gun,” Leggett said in a statement.
“We are still collecting information and the cause or motive behind the attack is unknown at this time. The incident is under investigation,” he added.
NEW, statement from US Forces-Afghanistan spox Col. Leggett:
2 US troops killed and six injured in Afghanistan after “an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun.” pic.twitter.com/ZVM4rIXyYs— Haley Britzky (@halbritz) February 9, 2020
The US spokesman said six Afghan troops had also been killed in the attack and that the wounded servicemen were receiving medical treatment at a US facility in Nangarhar.
Afghan individuals wearing military uniforms sometimes open fire at US forces, in what are sometimes referred to as “insider attacks.” In at least some of those attacks, the assailant flees and later emerges among the Taliban.
Both the Taliban militants and members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group are active in Nangarhar.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating a peace deal on and off for a year. Talks restarted in Qatar later last December, but were suspended again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US.
Violent assaults in Afghanistan have meanwhile been raging, with the number of clashes jumping to record levels in the last quarter of last year.