US sends condolences after Spain troop deaths in Afghanistan
The United States offered its "deepest condolences" Wednesday to the families of two Spanish paramilitary police killed in a shootout in Afghanistan being investigated as a terror attack.
The two police officers were killed along with a Spanish interpreter by an Afghan policeman at a training session at a small NATO base in northwestern Afghanistan. The Afghan man was shot dead by security forces.
"The United States extends its deepest condolences to the families of the two Guardia Civil officers who tragically lost their lives in Afghanistan," said Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council.
"We greatly appreciate Spain's contributions in support of NATO's ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan, particularly the critical training that the Guardia Civil is performing with distinction to prepare the Afghan forces to take responsibility for their own security," he added.
Spain's Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba announced the deaths earlier Wednesday, calling the attack an act of terrorism.
"In a class, one of the students apparently opened fire on the two Civil Guard policemen and the interpreter, who was also Spanish, and killed all three," he told a local radio station.
"The security forces in turn repulsed the attack, fired on the assailant and killed him."
"The cause of the shooting incident is still unclear," NATO's ISAF said in a statement. Citing "reports," it said an Afghan police officer had fired at his trainers before he was killed in return fire.
The Taliban posted an Internet message claiming the Afghan police officer had a "special connection" to their group, the SITE monitoring service said.
SITE quoted a statement posted on the Taliban website, from spokesman Zabihullah, saying the officer "always said that he will take revenge against the occupying soldiers after he had seen with his own eyes the injustices and the conduct of the occupiers towards the innocent residents."
Spain has some 1,270 troop in Afghanistan, predominantly deployed in the west of the country.
© 2010 AFP