BAGRAM, Afghanistan – A shootout with enemy forces in Afghanistan left a U.S. soldier dead on Saturday, the U.S. military said.
Reporting from Bagram Air Force Base, the military reports that while on patrol in the eastern province of Paktika, the soldier's unit came under fire.
The firefight started "when enemy forces engaged U.S. forces at approximately 4 a.m.," the statement said. The soldier was taken to a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan and died during surgery.
The soldier was taken to the air base at Bagram where he underwent surgery.
"He's currently in stable condition. His injuries were not life-threatening," the statement said.
Two other soldiers were injured in separate incidents in the previous 24 hours, the statement said.
A U.S. special operations soldier was hurt Friday afternoon when rockets were fired at a U.S. compound in Asadabad, the capital of Afghanistan's northeastern Kunar province. One landed near the soldier's tent, the statement said.
The air base immediately sent an A-10 aircraft to Asadabad. It strafed the area with 2,000 rounds from its 40-mm guns to try to flush out the enemy attackers. It was not known whether any of the attackers was hurt or killed.
Rockets, many Chinese-made and connected to crude water timers, have been fired frequently at U.S. troops stationed at the Khost airfield in eastern Afghanistan. The rockets, sometimes leaned against rocks, are difficult to aim and have rarely caused casualties.
A third solder was hurt in a weapons training exercise with the Afghan military near Spinboldak in southeast Afghanistan. The soldier was trying to correct a misfire on a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at the time.
He was stable after undergoing surgery at Bagram.
U.S. forces are hunting fugitive al-Qaida and Taliban in the rugged mountain peaks of eastern and northeastern Afghanistan. U.S. special forces are also looking for renegade rebel commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the same region. Hekmatyar has made frequent calls for a holy war against American soldiers in Afghanistan.
This week the United Nations issued a report saying that al-Qaida training camps had resumed in eastern Afghanistan. The camps are small and mobile, the report said.
The area also borders deeply conservative regions of Pakistan where suicide bombers are being recruited and trained, sources tell The Associated Press.
The bombers are being offered $50,000 for their families if they carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan, the sources said. The presence of the training camps and plans to carry out suicide attacks was corroborated by a Western intelligence source.
Fifteen U.S. servicemen have been killed in combat or hostile situations in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign began late last year. The most recent fatality was on May 19.
Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers and their Afghan interpreter were injured in the capital Tuesday when an Afghan man hurled a grenade at their unmarked jeep on a crowded street. That attack was the first-ever grenade attack on American forces in Kabul.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.