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U. S. Soldier Dies in Fierce Afghan Fighting

October 01, 2003|From Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents have killed an American soldier and wounded two others in a fierce gun battle in Paktika province, a few miles from Pakistan, U.S. military spokesman Col. Rodney Davis said Tuesday.

The battle occurred Monday near a coalition base at Shkin, Davis said from Bagram air base, the U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan.

Coalition forces killed two enemy fighters, Davis said.

The U.S. Defense Department identified the dead soldier as Army Pfc. Evan W. O'Neill, 19, of Haverhill, Mass. O'Neill was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

"He had wanted to be in the military since he was 2," O'Neill's father, Michael, said outside his home early Tuesday. "He died for his country doing what he wanted to do. I am very proud of him. He died a hero."

The soldier's death brings to 36 the number of U.S. troops killed in action in Afghanistan since the war to oust the Taliban regime began in late 2001. At least 164 American soldiers have been wounded.

In recent months, Taliban rebels have stepped up operations. They waged a fierce battle in late August and early September in southern Zabol province in which an American special operations soldier died. U.S. and Afghan military officials say well over 100 Taliban fighters were also killed in that battle.

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