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Two missing US troops 'are dead'

BBC News | July 5, 2005

Two of the three US special forces soldiers missing in eastern Afghanistan for almost a week have been found dead, US government sources told the BBC.

The whereabouts of the other team member remains unclear, while a fourth soldier was found alive on Saturday.

The governor of Konar province has spoken of reports that an American is being cared for in a remote village.

The US launched a major hunt for the men after a Chinook helicopter sent to find them was shot down last week.

The 16 US soldiers on board the helicopter were killed.

Village mystery

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, the US military is not commenting publicly on what happened to the three missing soldiers.

But a well-placed US government source confirmed the deaths of two of them, members of an elite Navy Seals unit.

Speaking anonymously, the official described their deaths as a "terrible tragedy". Another US source confirmed the details.

The US military released a statement on Monday confirming that one soldier had been found alive on Saturday.

The man, who had been missing since 28 June, was taken to Bagram Airfield for treatment and is said to be in a stable condition.

But the US remains cautious about reports that villagers in a remote village have been caring for a wounded American.

Konar Province governor Assadullah Wafa said Afghan troops received reports about the man on Sunday night, but had not yet reached the village.

The BBC's Andrew North, in Kabul, says it remains unclear whether this is old information relating to the American already rescued, or evidence of a fourth team member still being alive.

Inquiry demand

Meanwhile, the US military has said it regrets that civilians were killed in an air strike by US forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Women and children were among 17 killed in the raid on Chechal village, Mr Wafa said.

The governor has called the bombing a "mistake" and called for an investigation into how it happened.

In a statement, the US said it regretted the loss of innocent life but maintained that it struck a valid target, and that enemy "terrorists" were among those killed.

The government in Kabul expressed concern at the deaths. US-led raids on Afghan targets have resulted in dozens of civilian deaths since late 2001.



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