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Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police on NATO coalition troops in Afghanistan this year have resulted in more than 50 deaths, most of them Americans.

In mid-September, insider attacks had caused the U.S.-led coalition to curb some joint operations with Afghan forces after the video insulting Islam emerged on the Internet, enraging Muslims worldwide.

The coalition was beginning to resume full joint operations again when a battle between U.S. and Afghan troops erupted Saturday, leaving two Americans and three Afghans dead.

The trouble began when a Taliban rocket landed near American troops on patrol in eastern Wardak province. The Americans thought Afghan troops had targeted them and fired on a nearby Afghan army post, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Afghan army returned fire, and a battle ensued for 10 minutes, killing a U.S. soldier and “his civilian colleague,” according to reports. Three Afghan troops were killed.

More than 2,000 U.S. troops have died in the Afghan war, with at least 1,190 more coalition troops from other countries.

Western military spokesmen denied that there was any lack of trust between Afghan and coalition forces.

“If you visit the people in the field who are working together closely with thousands of interactions every day, you see strong, trusting relationships resulting in cooperative operations delivering success,” said British Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw on Sunday.

That may be true in many cases. But there have been enough insider attacks to arouse suspicions among U.S. troops under fire that Afghan troops may have targeted them. This would justify taking special precautions to protect coalition personnel.

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