The body of one of two US soldiers, missing since last week, has been found by a military diving team in a river in western Afghanistan, NATO-led forces and the US military said today.
The search for the missing US soldiers inadvertently resulted in the deaths of eight Afghans in an air strike last week.
“Over the last 24 hours, one US paratrooper was found, and we’re still conducting an operation to identify and recover the second missing soldier,” Canadian Brigadier General Eric Tremblay, a spokesperson for NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul.
“We are quite hopeful that we will find our missing soldier.”
The disappearance of the two paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division during a resupply mission near a river last week triggered a search by NATO and Afghan forces in Badghis province, near the border with Turkmenistan.
“The first signs are leading us to believe that he drowned,” Tremblay said.
NATO called in an air strike last Friday after a battle erupted while Afghan and foreign troops were searching for the missing soldiers.
Seven Afghan soldiers and police were mistakenly killed in the strike, the Afghan Defence Ministry said.
The NATO-led force has confirmed the air strike deaths and said an eighth Afghan, a civilian working with the military, was also killed. The force said it was investigating whether its air strikes were responsible for the deaths.
Last Sunday, the Taliban denied they were holding the bodies of the two US soldiers after earlier claiming they had recovered the two dead servicemen.
The Afghan government struck a cease-fire deal with Taliban insurgents in Badghis in July, but the province has still witnessed an increase in insurgent activity in recent months.
Reports of missing soldiers in Afghanistan are rare and immediately trigger a large-scale military response. Another US soldier has been missing in the southeast since June and insurgents have said they are holding him.