NATO official: 2 US service members missing in eastern Afghanistan

By Robert H. Reid, AP
Saturday, July 24, 2010

NATO: 2 American troops missing in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two U.S. troops are missing in eastern Afghanistan, a military official said Saturday. An Afghan official said one may have been killed and the other taken hostage by the Taliban.

A NATO statement Saturday said the two service members left their compound the previous day in Kabul but did not return.

The statement did not identify the pair by nationality but U.S. officials said they were American.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Samer Gul, district chief of Charkh district in Logar province, said Saturday that a four-wheel drive armored vehicle was seen Friday night by a guard working for the district chief’s office. The guard tried to flag down the vehicle, carrying a driver and a passenger, but it kept going, Gul said.

“They stopped in the main bazaar of Charkh district. The Taliban saw them in the bazaar,” Gul said. “They didn’t touch them in the bazaar, but notified other Taliban that a four-wheel vehicle was coming their way.”

The second group of Taliban tried to stop the vehicle, but when it didn’t, insurgents opened fire and the two occupants in the vehicle shot back, he said.

NATO said a search is under way for the missing service members. According to Gul, one may have been killed and the other taken hostage by the Taliban.

“Maybe they wanted to go to Paktia province or to the American base, but they came down the wrong road toward Charkh,” Gul said. “They didn’t pay any attention to the police. Otherwise we could have kept them from going into an insecure area and now this unfortunate incident has happened.”

The only U.S. service member known to be in Taliban captivity is Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho who disappeared June 30, 2009 in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan. He has since appeared on videos posted on Taliban websites confirming his captivity.

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