US soldier killed in Afghanistan while on patrol


A US soldier was killed while on patrol in eastern Afghanistan yesterday when his unit came under heavy fire, a US military spokesman said.

Sgt Arden Vance Jr (38), of Morgantown, West Virginia, was in the 19th Special Forces Unit of the West Virginia National Guard. He had been in the National Guard for 10 years, said spokesman Maj Mike Cadle.

There were no other reports of coalition casualties in the incident, which started when suspected al-Qaeda or Taliban forces fought US forces, the spokesman said.

It was unclear whether there were any casualties on the opposing side.

Small teams of US special forces and other coalition soldiers are operating throughout eastern Afghanistan, conducting search operations for Taliban and al-Qaeda members.

Some 1,000 British-led troops begam the sweep through mountains near the city of Khost on Friday, saying they believed a "significant number" of fighters were there after an Australian patrol was attacked the day before.

The Australians came under heavy fire there for five hours, until calling in strikes by US A130 gunships, which killed 10 people the coalition claimed were Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.