KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban militants abducted two American service members who were driving a civilian vehicle in a particularly dangerous region of Logar Province south of Kabul on Friday, according to officials and local residents.
5 U.S. Soldiers Die in Afghanistan Bombings (July 25, 2010) The abduction prompted a wide manhunt by the American military, including searches by military helicopters and radio broadcasts of a $20,000 reward for information leading to their return.
Local officials in Logar began receiving unconfirmed reports late Saturday afternoon that one of the two Americans may have been killed, and that the other one was still alive, said Din Mohammed Darwish, the spokesman for the Logar provincial governor. A NATO official said that he did not know whether that was true.
The Taliban have reportedly claimed responsibility for abducting the two Americans, but Mr. Darwish said local officials knew little more. “We don’t know what their demands are,” he said.
News of the abduction came on the same day that five other American service members were killed in southern Afghanistan in two separate bomb attacks.
Fifty-six American troops have died in Afghanistan so far this month, according to icasualties.org, which tracks military fatalities. The toll for July is now close to the 60 United States troops who died last month, the largest number of American deaths in the nearly nine-year war.
In a terse statement, the American-led NATO military command said Saturday evening that the two missing Americans had left a compound in Kabul on Friday afternoon, but the statement did not address why they traveled to Logar.
The two service members had “departed their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle on Friday afternoon and did not return,” the statement said, adding that troops in military vehicles and helicopters were now searching for them.
Mr. Darwish, the governor’s spokesman, said the two Americans were dressed in civilian clothes, and were abducted while they were driving in an armored sport utility vehicle early Friday evening in the Charkh District of southern Logar Province, a Taliban hotbed.
“The area is very bad in terms of security,” he said. He said they were seized in an area locally known as Matani, inside Charkh, about 10 miles south of the provincial capital, Pul-i-Alam. The area is about 60 miles south of Kabul.
A NATO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not say whether the service members’ trip was sanctioned by the military, or whether they had gone somewhere they were not supposed to.
The official did confirm that the two were American military service members, not civilians, nor members of a State Department provincial reconstruction team. But he said he did not know whether they were wearing military uniforms or civilian clothes.
Local residents said the Americans had been taken while they were driving in an armored S.U.V. They said that a local radio station broadcast that NATO forces were offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to their safe return.
The only American service member known to be in Taliban captivity is Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, of Idaho, who was captured in late June, 2009, in Paktika Province.
Military officials had initially reported that he had walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan. But in a video sent out by the Taliban, Private Bergdahl said he had been captured after he lagged behind during a patrol.
haha stupid yankees, if only torture was permissable in islam - I'd love to see those soldiers experience even 1% of the torture and humiliated iraqi and afghan civilians face in abu ghraib and bagram
but instead they'll get treated like this fella, they should consider themselves lucky to be captures by the taliban