Fatal row in first week of UK-run Afghan officer academy

The BBC's David Loyn: "This was a really unfortunate incident"

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A row which left an Afghan soldier dead and three Nato colleagues wounded took place close to the new UK-run officer training academy, it has emerged.

The Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul - which is modelled on Sandhurst in the UK - opened last week.

BBC correspondent David Loyn said the incident on Saturday was a "blow to the morale of the new academy".

Analysis

The fight at the gate of the officer academy following an argument over a confiscated laptop could have far-reaching implications. The timing could not be worse as the first cadets only began training last week.

Since he became prime minister, David Cameron has made no secret of his desire to withdraw from the Afghan campaign, and Britain is not expected to send any troops to the Nato mission that will follow the end of combat operations next year (Turkey, Germany, and Italy are expected to be the major troop-contributing nations alongside the US).

The officer academy is set to be Britain's only military legacy to Afghanistan, but casualties there could strengthen the hands of those in Whitehall who want to cut costs in Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

Afghan government sources said the Afghan had fired a shot in a row with his colleagues, who had returned fire.

The sources said the Afghan soldier, who was guarding a perimeter gate at the site where the academy is based, had confiscated a laptop computer from a driver, prompting soldiers from Australia and New Zealand to try to take it back from him.

They swore at the Afghan soldier and he shot one of the Australians in the chest, the sources added.

It is believed the bullet fragmented against his body armour and hit another Australian and a New Zealander, before the Afghan was shot dead.

Our correspondent said: "It could have serious political ramifications for Britain's long-term funding of the officer academy, modelled on Sandhurst, set to be the only British military contribution to Afghanistan after combat operations end next year."

He added that this was the fourth insider attack in Afghanistan in a month, after a period when new precautions had reduced the threat.

Last year, attacks by Afghan servicemen on their Nato colleagues accounted for around 15% of all international troop casualties.

Map The base will be the only British military presence in Afghanistan after operations end next year

In June, Nato handed over security for the whole of Afghanistan to Afghan forces, but some 97,000 troops remain.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force Isaf currently has troops from 50 contributing nations - most of them, some 68,000, from the US - providing military back-up when needed.

By the end of 2014 all combat troops should have left to be replaced - if approved by the Afghan government - by a smaller force that will only train and advise.

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