PM canvasses for the end of 'insider' attacks

JULIA GILLARD has asked for assurances from the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, that all efforts are being made to prevent ''insider'' attacks from rogue Afghan troops on Australian soldiers.

During a day's visit to Afghanistan before her trip to India, the ''green on blue'' attacks - which claimed three Australians in an incident in August - were at the front of the Ms Gillard's mind.

She said she had spoken to President Karzai and ''sought an assurance from him that everything that can be done is being done''. He had canvassed the steps being taken by Afghan forces to deal with the insider attacks. Ms Gillard also raised the issue with the governor of Oruzgan province, where the Australian troops are based.

''Clearly these have been tragic and disturbing incidents. They are designed to corrode morale and everything needs to be done on the Afghan side to deal with the possibility of insider attacks,'' she said.

The assailant who killed the three Australians is still being hunted. In the days after the incident, there was some tension between Australian and Afghan authorities when Mr Karzai said Australian military personnel did not have permission for a raid in which an old man and his son were killed. The Australian government said the raid had been authorised and those killed were linked to the insurgents.

A total of seven Australians have been killed in green on blue attacks.

Ms Gillard received briefings from General John Allen, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and Australian senior military officers.

''I've been very clearly told that the mission we defined for ourselves is on track,'' Ms Gillard said.

She said that General Allen had indicated to her that ''there are still two years in front of the mission for getting the Afghan National Army and National Police fully up to speed. That's two fighting seasons in which they will increasingly be operating independently''.

Ms Gillard said it was anticipated troops trained by Australia would be able to operate independently by the end of this year.

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