Eight U.S. Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan Firefight (Update2)
By Alan Katz and Jay Shankar, Bloomberg.com, Oct. 4, 2009
Eight U.S. soldiers and two Afghan troops died after militants in eastern Nuristan province attacked two outposts yesterday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said in a statement today.
The deaths were the worst U.S. fatalities in a single engagement since July 2008, the Associated Press said.
Six other U.S. soldiers were killed in four separate incidents on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, said Lieutenant Junior Grade Tommy Groves of the ISAF public affairs office in Kabul.
The total number of U.S. soldiers killed in and around Afghanistan as of 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Oct. 2 was 774, according a Defense Department Web site.
President Barack Obama on Sept. 30 met with top national- security and military advisers in the second of five meetings planned to decide on whether to bolster troop levels in Afghanistan by as many as 40,000 soldiers. He also met with Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, aboard Air Force One on the tarmac in Copenhagen on Oct. 2.
The discussions over strategy come as public support in the U.S. for the war has slipped. Fifty-one percent of adults said the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth fighting and 46 percent said it was, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted Sept. 10 to Sept. 12. That findings reverse a March poll in which 56 percent said the war was worth fighting and 41 percent said it wasn’t.
Fighting in Nuristan began around dawn on Oct. 3 and lasted several hours, AP reported, citing Jamaludin Badar, governor of Nuristan province. Almost 300 insurgent fighters flooded the first outpost, manned by Afghan troops, then swept around it to reach the U.S. station on higher ground from both directions, the news service added, citing Mohammad Qasim Jangulbagh, the provincial police chief.
Militants came from a nearby mosque and village, ISAF said in the statement. Groves, who declined to name the village, said that the fighting lasted most of the day.
“My heart goes out to the families of those we have lost and to their fellow soldiers who remained to finish this fight,” Colonel Randy George, commander of Task Force Mountain Warrior, said in the statement.
The U.S. and its allies are trying to push back the Taliban insurgency that is threatening the stability of Afghanistan and the fight against international terrorism.
The military situation in Afghanistan is “in some ways deteriorating,” and requires quick action from the U.S. and NATO to combat insurgents, McChrystal said in an Oct. 1 speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jay Shankar in Bangalore at firstname.lastname@example.org