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Afghanistan - US

Huge search for missing US soldiers in Afghanistan

International forces in Afghanistan have launched a massive search for two US sailors missing since Friday. The Taliban say they have killed one and are holding the other.

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Helicopters and military vehicles have been sent in search of the men in Logar province, south of Kabul. They are reported to be targeting compounds which they suspect are being used by Taliban fighters or bomb-makers.

At least two local radio stations have broadcast descriptions of the men and are offering rewards of 10,000 dollars (8,000 euros) for their safe return.

After denying involvement for 24 hours, the Taliban on Sunday said that one of the two was killed in an exchange of fire and that the other was captured. Both the body and the prisoner have been taken to “a safe location”, a representative told the AFP news agency.

The two were earlier reported to be soldiers, but the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) now says they were US navy sailors, although Afghanistan is landlocked. Officials seem unclear as to where they were based but say they left a camp in Kabul before going missing.

France 24's Leela Jacinto blogs on Afghanistan and Pakistan

US media report that they may have left the base without permission.

In other news from Afghanistan:

  • Isaf says it captured two suspected insurgents in Logar in “offensive clearing operations” and a “sub-commander” of the Haqqani network in Khost province on Saturday;
  • US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen arrived in Kabul for talks with senior US officials, including including Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Isaf head General David Petraeus;
  • The Taliban captured a district in eastern Nuristan province with dozens of Taliban and up to six Afghan police killed during several days of fighting, according to officials;
  • The Afghan government is checking reports by locals that about 40 Afghan civilians were killed in a raid by foreign forces in Sangin district of southern Helmand province on Friday.

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