HERAT, Afghanistan, (Reuters) – Two U.S. soldiers transporting supplies in Afghanistan were reported missing on Friday and the Taliban said they were holding the bodies of two drowned foreign soldiers.
The Islamist militants’ spokesman, Qare Yousuf, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location that they had recovered the bodies of the drowned soldiers on Wednesday in the western Badghis province.
The province’s police chief, Abdul Jabar, said the two service members were Americans, who drowned in a river after arriving in the area during a gunbattle on Wednesday.
U.S. military sources confirmed they were Americans.
Earlier the NATO-led force in Afghanistan said two of its members were reported missing during a routine resupply mission in the west of the country on Wednesday.
“We continue exhaustive search and rescue operations to locate our missing service members. We are doing everything we can to find them,” said U.S. Navy Captain Jane Campbell, a press officer for the NATO-led force. “The families of these service members have been notified about their loved ones’ status, and we will continue to keep them informed as information becomes available.”
Troops from more than 40 nations are members of the nearly 110,000-strong NATO-led force, two-thirds of them American. The biggest contingents operating in the west of the country are from the United States and Italy.
Reports of missing troops in Afghanistan are extremely rare. A U.S. soldier has been missing in the south since late June. Insurgents say they are holding him, and U.S. forces in the area launched a massive manhunt.