U.S. forces continue searching mountains in eastern Afghanistan for a small team of American troops missing for nearly a week after one member of the team has been rescued.
One member of an elite U.S. military team missing in Afghan mountains since last week was found and American forces pushed on Monday with their urgent search for other team members, U.S. military officials said.
The rescued American serviceman was being rushed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, a U.S. Defense Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the continuing search, reports the AP.
He declined to say when the rescue occurred or provide other details, including a reaction to reports that the team consisted of three U.S. Navy Seals.
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara declined to comment on the rescued serviceman, but said an unspecified number of other troops were still missing in the mountains. "We still have missing servicemembers. The search continues and all available assets are being used," he said.
The U.S. military says the reconnaissance team has been missing in rugged mountains of Kunar province bordering Pakistan since last Tuesday, just before militants shot down a Special Forces helicopter coming to their aid, killing all 16 aboard.
The BBC quoted U.S. officials as saying the rescued soldier had reportedly pointed U.S. searchers in the direction where the other soldiers had gone, but the search had been hampered by bad weather and their whereabouts and condition remained unclear. U.S. military spokesmen in Kabul have said they had no reason to believe the men had been killed or captured - contrary to Taliban claims.
On Friday, Colonel Jim Yonts said he could not confirm or deny a claim by Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi that insurgents killed seven U.S. "spies" before the helicopter was shot down.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghan soldiers fighting alongside U.S. troops in the mountains have encircled a small group of suspected al-Qaida fighters, but no leaders of Osama bin Laden's network are believed to be in the area, Defense Minister Rahim Wardak told The Associated Press.
The U.S. military has said U.S. aircraft launched strikes again a militant compound in Kunar on Friday but it has yet to release information on casualties, despite a guerrilla claim that it killed 25 civilians.
The BBC has quoted unidentified U.S. military officials as saying civilians may have died in the bombing but the governor of Kunar province, Assadullah Wafa, told Reuters reports he had were that the dead were 20 Taliban militants and no civilians.
Hundreds have died in militant-related violence since March, including 30 U.S. troops, hundreds of guerrillas, and dozens of members of the Afghan security forces.
Afghan officials have reported more than 70 other deaths, over half of them of insurgents, in Taliban-related violence in the restive south and east since Wednesday, says Reuters.
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