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Are insider attacks in Afghanistan a 'last gasp' of the Taliban? (+video)

US officials say that three recent incidents where Afghan troops are thought to have turned their weapons on their NATO allies represent a serious threat, but will not affect the timeline of US troop withdrawal.

An Afghan police officer turned his gun on NATO troops at a remote checkpoint in the south of the country before dawn Sunday, killing four American troops, according to Afghan and international officials. (Sept. 16)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that while he is very concerned about rogue Afghan troops and police turning their guns on U.S. and allied forces, he sees the insider attacks as the "last gasp" of a Taliban insurgency that has not been able to regain lost ground.

The defense chief's comments followed unusually sharp criticism from Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey on Sunday called the escalating insider attacks a "very serious threat" to the Afghanistan campaign.

Dempsey vowed that something has to change in order to address the escalating problem, and he suggested that the Afghans need to take the matter as seriously as the Americans do.

There have been three so-called insider attacks against U.S. and NATO troops over the past several days, including an attack at a checkpoint by Afghan police Sunday that killed four American soldiers.

More than 50 international service members have died at the hands of their Afghan allies or those who have infiltrated their ranks so far this year. At least 12 such attacks came in August alone, leaving 15 dead.

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