Two U.S. soldiers missing in Afghanistan, with 25 wounded in search mission 2009-11-07 16:29:19   Print

    KABUL, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- An extensive search has been continuing for two U.S. soldiers missing in northwest Afghanistan's Badghis since Wednesday, as 25 NATO and Afghan forces were wounded during the search operation Friday, a statement of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Saturday said.

    The two paratroopers, both from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, disappeared Wednesday evening during a "routine re-supply mission," the statement of the alliance added.

    During the search operation to fish them out, more than 25 NATO and Afghan security forces members were injured, NATO's spokesman Todd Breasseale said in the statement.

    However, Breasseale could not specify how many of the wounded soldiers were Afghan and how many were NATO and from which countries.

    In the statement, however, ISAF did not say the exact place of the incident and reason for the mishap.

    Meantime, Abdul Jabbar the Deputy to Police Chief of Badghis province said that erroneous air strikes on Afghan and ISAF forces in Balamirghab district had left over a dozen soldiers and militants dead and wounded.

    "A contingent of Afghan and international troops came under Taliban attack in Balamirghab district on Thursday and the troops called in air support. The aircraft came in support but mistakenly pounded the troops' position leaving over a dozen soldiers dead and injured," Jabbar told Xinhua.

    Those killed in the so-called friendly fire, he added include three militants, three police and two Afghan soldiers.

    Twelve more Afghan soldiers and one Afghan police constable sustained injuries in the air strike; while six American soldiers were either killed or injured in the incident, he further stressed.

    Meantime, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit, in talks with media via telephone from unknown location said the insurgents ambushed a convoy of Afghan and American troops in Balamirghab district Thursday killing over three dozen soldiers including several Americans, a claim rejected by Jabbar as mere propaganda.

    Rushing to NATO troops, the NATO aircraft carried out air strikes and mistakenly pounded its own troops killing several soldiers, Taliban spokesman Ahmadi stressed.

    The incident occurred in the wake of going missing two American soldiers in Badghis province on Wednesday while trying to recoup logistic packets that had dropped accidentally in the water from a military helicopter.

    Both the soldiers, according to Afghan police officer had been swept away by river in Balamirghab.

    Meantime, a Taliban commander in Balamirghab district Mullah Zakiri in talks with media via telephone from undisclosed location has claimed having the bodies of the missing two U.S. soldiers.

    However, search operation to locate the two ill-fated soldiers is going on.

    "We continue exhaustive search and rescue operations to locate our missing service members," spokeswoman Navy Capt. Jane Campbell said in the NATO statement. "We are doing everything we can to find them."

    On June 30, an American soldier was captured by insurgents in eastern Afghanistan. He was shown as a Taliban captive in a video in July, and has still not been found.

    Separately on Friday, NATO said three ISAF soldiers, including two American service members, were killed Thursday in two separate Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks in southern Afghanistan.

    The deaths bring to three the number of U.S. service members, killed in the Afghan war so far this month. In October, 59 U.S. soldiers were killed, making the month the deadliest for U.S. forces in the eight-year war.

    U.S. President Barack Obama is considering a request from his military commanders to increase troop numbers by up to 40,000 brining the strength of NATO-led forces over 120,000 to tackle increasing insurgency in the post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Editor: Xiong Tong
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