correction: An earlier online version of this article said that three Americans sustained gunshot wounds in an attack in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 18. Two Americans were injured in that attack, according to people with knowledge of the incident.
KABUL — A soldier from the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan was killed Monday and two others were injured in an apparent insider attack by a member of the Afghan security forces, U.S. military officials here said.
The victims were not immediately identified, and no other details of the incident were released.
Afghan military sources said they were trying to confirm reports that an Afghan special operations forces commando had opened fire on U.S. troops in the Shindand region of western Herat province, killing one.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Robert Manning III, said later that the fatality in Herat was not an American. He declined to say whether any of the wounded were U.S. troops and referred further questions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban insurgent movement, said in a statement Monday that the assailant in Herat was a Taliban “infiltrator.”
The incident came four days after two top Afghan security officials in southern Kandahar province were shot dead by a member of the provincial governor’s security team.
The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, escaped unhurt in the attack, which claimed the life of Afghan National Police Gen. Abdul Raziq, a fierce anti-insurgent fighter who was considered the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan.
The Taliban asserted responsibility for the assault Thursday in the compound of the Kandahar provincial governor.
The shooting by a lone attacker targeted a high-level meeting in Kandahar between U.S. and Afghan officials on plans to secure nationwide parliamentary elections Saturday.
Two Americans sustained gunshot wounds in the Kandahar attack, including Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey D. Smiley, according to four people with knowledge of the incident. Military officials have not identified the wounded, describing them only as a U.S. service member and a civilian.
Smiley has commanded the U.S. military assistance mission in southern Afghanistan since August, according to his National Guard biography.
After the Kandahar attack, some Afghans, including several national legislators, questioned the official version. Conspiracy theorists charged that the U.S. military was behind a plot to kill Raziq, a powerful regional security boss who was sometimes difficult for Afghanistan’s civilian government to control.
Those alleging a foreign plot questioned why Miller escaped unharmed while senior Afghans in the same meeting died, and why U.S. military officials stressed strongly that Miller was not the target of the attack. Taliban spokesmen said Miller, Raziq and other Afghan officials were all targets.
Afghanistan’s chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah, dismissed such rumors Monday after a meeting with Miller. He said people who spread them are just “helping the enemy.”
The head of the country’s intelligence service, Masoom Stanakzai, also rejected the allegations. Speaking to journalists in Kandahar, he gave a detailed account of the attack. He said the lone shooter, who was killed in the encounter, gave a false name when he enrolled recently in the provincial security service. He added that 15 other people have been arrested in the plot.
Stanakzai said that 15 minutes before the attack Thursday, the plotters received a phone call from “across the border,” meaning Pakistan, giving them instructions. “It is clear that the enemies of Afghanistan planned this plot on the other side of the border” and worked hard on it, he said.
Insider attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan became a significant concern beginning in 2008. Since then, more than 100 incidents have been reported in which about 155 U.S. or coalition troops or contractors have been killed and 200 wounded by Afghans in uniform. The incidents peaked in 2012, then declined steadily as foreign forces withdrew and new protection and vetting measures were adopted.
However, several deadly assaults on U.S. forces in the past several years came at the hands of highly trained Afghan commandos. This has raised alarm, since such troops work closely with U.S. counterterrorism forces and are considered the best-trained and motivated of all Afghan security personnel.
Last month, an American soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Bolyard, 42, of West Virginia, died of wounds he sustained in an insider attack in Logar province while working in a special unit formed to assist Afghan security forces and improve their combat capability. A second U.S. soldier was wounded in the incident. The shooter, a member of the Afghan National Police, was captured, according to news accounts.
In June of last year, an Afghan special operations forces commando opened fire on American troops, killing three and wounding one, at a firebase in the Achin district of Nangahar province. The victims were members of the U.S. Special Operations forces assisting Afghan forces on a joint anti-terrorism mission against the Islamic State.
One week later, an Afghan army soldier opened fire at a joint Afghan and U.S. military and training base in northern Afghanistan. One Afghan soldier was killed, and seven Americans were wounded. NATO and U.S. officials said the attacker was shot and died on the way to a hospital. No foreigners died in that attack. Afghan officials confirmed that the gunman was an Afghan soldier; one said he was an army commando.
Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul and Dan Lamothe in Washington contributed to this report.