5 U.S. soldiers wounded in Afghanistan

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KABUL -- A man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire outside a NATO base in eastern Afghanistan, wounding five American soldiers, an Afghan police official said yesterday.

The number of insider attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan has increased this year, undermining the trust between allies and efforts to prepare Afghan troops to take over their own security as international combat troops prepare to withdraw.

The U.S.-led coalition confirmed in a statement that a number of its service members were shot and wounded by a man in an Afghan army uniform Tuesday in Wardak province's Sayed Abad district. It said yesterday that the service members were being treated at a medical facility but did provide details.

The coalition maintains a large base there, but NATO did not say where in the district the attack took place or what happened to the assailant, but said an investigation into the shooting was under way.

Wardak provincial police chief Abdul Qayum Bakizoi said the wounded were five U.S. soldiers. He did not have further details.

A witness said Afghan civilians were talking to the soldiers outside their base when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on them with a machine gun.

"The Americans were standing on the other side of us while we were standing with a translator. Suddenly the Afghan soldier aimed his machine gun on them and started shooting," Eman said.

He added that the wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter while the others "took us aside in fear of a possible gun battle."

Eman, who gave only one name, said the Afghan who opened fire escaped toward some trees and into a nearby village.

Wardak, located close to Kabul, is considered a Taliban hotbed and has been the scene of heavy fighting over the past year.

Tuesday's shooting was the latest likely case of a so-called "green-on-blue" attack in which Afghan soldiers or insurgents disguised in their uniforms turn their weapons on coalition troops.

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