Moves to combat 'insider threats'

The issue of "insider threats" to British troops in Afghanistan is being taken "extremely seriously at the very highest levels", the deputy commander of the Nato mission in the country said.

Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, outgoing deputy commander of ISAF, and UK National Contingent Commander, said the Afghanistan campaign is moving forward in the right direction, but admitted "there is still quite a bit to be done".

Addressing the problem of insider threats, or "green-on-blue attacks" - where Afghan soldiers and police have turned their weapons on foreign troops - he told reporters measures have been put in place to combat the problem.

"Insider threat is being taken extremely seriously at the very highest levels," he told reporters in London.

He said sympathies lie with any family of someone who dies on operations in Afghanistan, but added: "If they lose a family member to an insider attack, clearly it is even more difficult potentially to deal with, to understand the reason that may be behind essentially someone we are working alongside being involved in such an attack."

He said a working group had been set up to look at the issue, with measures in place to combat the problem, and said president Hamid Karzai himself had a personal interest.

"We have absolutely top-level focus on it. We are confident that we will bear down on this risk," he said.

Some nine Britons have died as a result of insider attacks so far this year. Last month, British soldiers Sgt Gareth Thursby and Pte Thomas Wroe were killed by an attacker dressed as an Afghan policeman and feigning injury.

But Lt Gen Bradshaw said he had not seen any evidence of a collapse in morale: "I have seen good working relations between ISAF troops and Afghan partners and have not seen any evidence of a collapse in morale or anything like that.

"However, we take insider threats very seriously and we are taking active measures to reduce the risk of insider attacks happening and we are absolutely confident that the measures we are taking will reduce the risk."