Two US service members killed in Afghanistan

Deaths occurred in valley where US dropped massive bomb on tunnels ‘used by Isis’

An  Afghan special forces unit member inspects a house which was used by suspected Islamic State militants at the site where a massive US bomb struck, in the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, earlier this month. Photograph:  Parwiz/Reuters

An Afghan special forces unit member inspects a house which was used by suspected Islamic State militants at the site where a massive US bomb struck, in the Achin district of the eastern province of Nangarhar, earlier this month. Photograph: Parwiz/Reuters

 

Two US service members were killed during an operation against Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan overnight on Wednesday, US officials said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump’s administration looks to craft a strategy in the war-torn country.

US forces in Afghanistan said in a statement that a third US service member was wounded in the raid, carried out with Afghan National Defense and Security Forces against the militants.

A spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan, Capt William Salvin said the deaths occurred in the same valley where the United States had dropped a massive bomb on a complex of fortified tunnels it says were being used by the Islamic State terror group.

Nicknamed “the mother of all bombs”, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb was dropped from an American MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, bordering Pakistan.

The incident comes just days after US defence secretary Jim Mattis visited Afghanistan, and while US troops are battling suspected Islamic State militants in Nangarhar province.

In this raid, Afghan commandos and coalition forces killed some 40 Islamic State fighters during a joint operation, said Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the Nangarhar governor.

Mr Khogyani said the raid was carried out against an Islamic State hideout in Achin district, and some 13 militants were taken alive.

Another US soldier was killed earlier in April while carrying out operations against Islamic State, also known as Isis, in the same province.

The Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, known as the Sunni jihadist group’s so-called Khorasan Province, is suspected of carrying out several attacks on minority Shia Muslim targets.

US officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighbouring Kunar province.

Estimates of its strength in Afghanistan vary. US officials have said they believe the movement has only 700 fighters but Afghan officials estimate it has about 1,500.

Reuters