Enemy Attack Kills 1, Injures 5 Americans in Afghanistan
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 25, 2003 One American service member was killed and five injured in an attack this morning in Afghanistan, defense officials said.
About 20 enemy fighters attacked an American platoon that was responding to a report of suspicious activity east of Fire Base Shkin, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. An Afghan military force soldier was injured as well, according to a U.S. Central Command news release.
"Though our focus has been on Iraq these past weeks, operations in Afghanistan continue," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Pentagon briefing today in announcing the death and injuries.
"We engaged the enemy from the ground and from the air and continue to look for them," he added. The chairman expressed his condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and wounded.
When the American platoon came under fire, a quick-reaction force responded. The attackers then fled across the Pakistan border. "U.S. forces estimate at least three enemy were killed in the exchange of fire," the CENTCOM release said.
Close-air support in the form of two coalition F-16s, two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts and two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters responded as well "but did not acquire any targets upon arrival."
The identities of those killed and wounded have not been released.
Myers said the size of the attack does not surprise him, because the region is still dangerous.
There have been several other attacks on Americans in recent days. An unknown number of enemy forces fired small arms at an American Special Forces team operating at the Madr Valley firebase April 24. Officials said a patrol sent to investigate found nothing.
In a separate incident on April 23, unknown forces fired two rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. Special Forces team near Asadabad. The Americans returned fire and went on with their mission, a military spokesman in Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan said in an April 24 statement.
Also on the 23rd, what is believed to be a rocket was fired at the Shkin firebase, causing no damage or injuries.
A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter "made a hard landing" early April 24 near Spin Boldak. It was later "stripped of all sensitive equipment and blown in place," the Bagram spokesman said this morning.
The helicopter was participating in Operation Vigilant Guardian, a Combined Task Force 82 operation in the area of Spin Boldak. No one was injured in the accident. Chinooks are generally troop-carrying aircraft. The spokesman said the crew was evacuated to Kandahar Air Field, and "the passengers continued on their mission."