An Afghan soldier turned on two U.S. paratroopers in Afghanistan and fatally shot them on Monday.
The news of the troops’ deaths was first announced in a brief statement by NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, which did not provide details of their deaths.
Afghan army spokesman Ahmad Sadiq later confirmed to Stars and Stripes that the troops were killed by an Afghan soldier at a base in Shah Wali Kot district in the southern province of Kandahar.
“We and our foreign colleagues are working hard together to eliminate the enemies of this country, the enemies of Afghanistan and humanity,” Sadiq told Stars and Stripes. “It is unfortunate that some of our soldiers will open fire on foreign troops or even on their Afghan colleagues.”
Afghanistan’s Defense Department deputy spokesman Fawad Aman also confirmed the attack.
A post on Monday by Army Col. Arthur Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team 82nd Airborne Division (“The Panther Brigade”) confirmed that the two fallen troops were 3rd Brigade Paratroopers.
“It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the loss of two Paratroopers from the Brigade during combat operations,” Sellers wrote. “When appropriate, further information will be shared through the Army’s and the Brigade’s official information channels.”
Sellers noted that it may take several days to notify the fallen troops’ next of kin. He warned against sharing any information or speculation out of respect for the families.
“As you read this, Rear Detachment leaders are gathering resources and will make them available to the Paratroopers’ loved ones to help them in this most difficult time. The expertise of every staff member of this brigade and in the 82nd Airborne Division will be utilized to ensure the Families of the fallen are taken care of,” Sellers wrote.
The 3rd Brigade Combat Team 82nd Airborne Division assumed authority of U.S. operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan in a ceremony on July 19, according to an update on the division’s website.
“The Panther paratroopers assumed responsibility for missions ranging from base security to developing the capacity of Afghan security forces in locations throughout the country from soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, headquartered at Fort Drum, New York,” the update noted.
The fallen troops are the second and third U.S. service member deaths in Afghanistan this month alone, and increases the year-to-date deaths in Afghanistan to 15, marking the deadliest year of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel since it began in 2015, as Military.com reported.