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First US Soldier Dies as Result of Hostile Fire in Afghanistan - 2002-01-04

A US Army Special Forces soldier has been killed in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan. He is the first member of the US military to die as a result of hostile fire in the three-month old campaign.

The death was confirmed by Army four-star General Tommy Franks, commander of the US Central Command and the man in charge of the military operation in Afghanistan.

General Franks said the soldier was part of a team working with what he describes as local tribal elements. "What we know right now is that the mission that he was on, as a part of a team, was to coordinate with some local tribal elements in the vicinity of Gardez-Khost, in order to facilitate cooperation between our forces in the region and the local tribal elements in that region," he said.

Details of the incident are sketchy and it is unclear whether the US-led team was ambushed by terrorists, Taleban or bandits. However Pentagon sources say another American, working for the Central Intelligence Agency, was wounded in the same firefight.

A CIA agent was killed earlier in the campaign in Afghanistan, during a prison uprising by detained al-Qaida and Taleban fighters. In addition, three soldiers were killed when they were mistakenly hit by a US airstrike.

Officials say the latest death underscores their repeated warnings that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place and that there are still pockets of al-Qaida and Taleban resistance.

US warplanes on Friday bombed a suspected al-Qaida base near the eastern Afghan border with Pakistan after detecting fresh activity by terrorists apparently regrouping there.

It was the second straight day that the facility - including a training camp and cave complex - was hit by American airstrikes.