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Western and Afghan officials say two American soldiers have been shot dead by two Afghans, including a man believed to be a soldier.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said two of its soldiers were killed on March 1 in a shooting carried out by “two individuals, one believed to be an Afghan National Army service member and the other in civilian clothing.”

Mohammad Mohssan, an Afghan Army spokesman in Kandahar city, said the attack occurred at an ISAF base in Kandahar's Zhari district and involved two Afghans, one of whom was a soldier. He said both were killed in return fire by NATO troops.

Kandahar’s Zhari district chief Niaz Mohammad Sarhadi said the two victims were U.S. troops. Unnamed U.S. officials later confirmed the two victims were Americans.

The killings in the southern Kandahar Province came after two senior U.S. officers were gunned down in the Afghan Interior Ministry on February 25 by what Afghan security officials say was a police intelligence official.

At least five NATO soldiers have been killed by Afghan security forces since the burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base last month triggered widespread anger and protests.

The killings and the Koran riots, which resulted in some 40 people being killed in six days of unrest, prompted NATO to recall hundreds of advisers from ministries in Kabul.

However, the U.S.-led coalition said that some foreign advisers had now returned to Afghan ministries. A coalition spokesman, Jimmie Cummings, did not elaborate on which ministries were involved.

In a separate development, Jan Kubis, the head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, said the protests against burning the Koran were legitimate and that the United States should take disciplinary action against the perpetrators.

NATO has a 130,000-strong U.S.-led military force fighting the Taliban, which has led an insurgency against the Western-backed Kabul government since being toppled from power in 2001.

With AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters reporting

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