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Originally published Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM

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Inquiry finds tensions between Aussies and Afghans

An inquiry into the death of an Australian soldier shot by an Afghan counterpart found on Friday there was a "constant but manageable tension" between the Australian military and the Afghan troops whom they mentor.

Associated Press

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CANBERRA, Australia —

An inquiry into the death of an Australian soldier shot by an Afghan counterpart found on Friday there was a "constant but manageable tension" between the Australian military and the Afghan troops whom they mentor.

The Australian military inquiry report failed to find a reason why Afghan soldier Shafied Ullah fired a burst of three or four shots from a guard tower at Lance Cpl. Andrew Jones as the 25-year-old army cook used a urinal at a forward patrol base in the Chora Valley in Uruzgan province on May 29 last year.

Ullah fled the scene and was shot dead three weeks later by international forces whom he threatened with a gun at a village 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of the Australian base in Tarin Kot.

"The death of Lance Cpl. Jones was a cowardly act of murder," Australian Defense Force Vice Chief Air Marshal Mark Binskin told reporters in releasing the report.

The inquiry found that "while there was a strong and workable relationship between Australian and Afghan forces" at the patrol base, "there remains a constant but manageable tension at mentoring locations, generally due to cultural issues."

There was no evidence that Ullah, who had been in the Afghan National Army for four months and stationed at the patrol base for nine days before the shooting, had ever met his victim.

Jones' death was the first of three incidents in which Afghan troops have attacked their Australian allies. A total of three Australian troops have been killed and another 10 wounded in the latter two incidents which are still under investigation by the Australian military.

Australia has 1,550 soldiers in Afghanistan with a primary focus on training an Afghan battalion to take responsibility for security in restive Uruzgan. A total of 33 Australians have died since Australian joined the campaign in 2001.

Australia, the largest military contributor to the U.S.-led alliance in Afghanistan outside NATO, plans to start withdrawing troops once the Afghan battalion is fully trained as early as next year.

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