A rogue member of the Afghan police force opened fire on several British soldiers in Helmand Province today, killing five before escaping into the countryside. The deaths bring Britain’s losses in the Afghan War this year to 92, the highest number lost in a British war since 1982.
The police officer had served in the area for three years, and had been trained at an academy in Kandahar. A Taliban spokesman says that he had been secretly working for them and that the attack was designed “to sow mistrust between the Afghan National Police and foreign forces.”
The ongoing unpopularity of the war in Britain is starting to take a toll, as a top member of the ruling Labor Party, Kim Howells, is openly calling for a “phased withdrawal” of British troops from Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown termed today’s deaths “a terrible loss,” but insisted that the war was making Britain safer. Brown is expected to lose his position in next year’s election to David Cameron, who is also an advocate of the war. Popular opinion shows the British public increasingly opposed to its continuation, however, and the rising death toll will likely only solidify that opposition.