Servicemember killed in Afghanistan battle
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — One U.S. servicemember was killed and another wounded in combat Thursday near Orgun-E, a day after three others were wounded in a separate clash elsewhere in Afghanistan.
The servicemember was killed “when enemy combatants ambushed a group of U.S. military engineers … in Paktika province,” a U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan said. The wounded soldier was taken to a nearby U.S. base for treatment, but no information was available on the extent of the soldier’s wounds.
“Enemy combatants attacked the engineers’ convoy with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenades near a construction project on the road between Sharona and Orgun-E,” a military statement read. “Completion of the road construction is a high-priority project for the people of the region.”
The soldier was at least the sixth killed in Afghanistan in a week’s time.
“This is a tragic event for all of us. Our engineers have been working in this area to improve the infrastructure so that Afghans living here have a better roadway system,” said Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, Combined Joint Task Force-76 deputy commander. “It’s disheartening that these militants would attack the very people that are trying to build a better life for the people of Afghanistan.”
A day earlier, three U.S. servicemembers and their Afghan interpreter were wounded in a battle that left at least six suspected insurgents dead, officials said late Wednesday.
According to Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, the injured men are all listed in stable condition at medical facilities on U.S. bases in Wazikwa and Paktika provinces, where they were “conducting offensive operations in order to … disrupt enemy activity.”
The firefight came after a joint Afghan-U.S. patrol clashed with militants who fled into a nearby cave complex. The pursuit and fight lasted several hours, officials said.
Violence in Afghanistan has increased as the country moves toward parliamentary elections scheduled for Sept. 18. U.S. officials have brought troop levels up to around 18,000 in an effort to boost security for the vote.