KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S. soldier died over the weekend after a traffic accident near Kabul, becoming the 100th American casualty since the U.S.-led military campaign began in Afghanistan (search) two years ago.
The U.S. military did not name the soldier in a brief statement issued Monday. It said the soldier was involved in a vehicle accident southwest of the Afghan capital on Friday night and died as a result of his injuries the next morning.
"His death underscores the dangers inherent in Operation Enduring Freedom and our condolences go out to his family," the statement said, without giving further details.
U.S. troops make up the majority of the 11,700-strong coalition forces hunting Al Qaeda (search) rebels and remnants of the former ruling Taliban regime that was ousted from power in Afghanistan in late 2001.
According to the Department of Defense Web site, as of Friday morning there had been 30 U.S. casualties from hostile fire since the operation began in October 2001 and another 69 "non-hostile" casualties.
The soldier's death Saturday would bring the total to 100.
The U.S.-led forces began their campaign to oust the Taliban (search) after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, after the hardline Islamic militia refused to hand over Al Qaeda leader and suspected mastermind of the terror plot, Usama bin Laden, who had used Afghanistan as a base.
Bin Laden has evaded capture and is believed to be hiding someplace on the rugged, poorly defined border between Afghanistan and Pakistan — where many of the tribal population on both sides of the frontier sympathize with the Taliban.
Despite the presence of the coalition forces, Taliban, Al Qaeda and guerrillas loyal to renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar have stepped up their campaign against the coalition and the U.S.-backed Afghan government in recent months.
Rebels have waged frequent attacks on security forces, government officials and aid workers, particularly in the lawless south and east of the country.
The attacks have cast doubts over whether Afghanistan, which earlier this month adopted a new constitution after two decades of war and civil strife, will be stable enough to hold general elections in June as planned.