Three U.S. Marines were killed when their convoy hit a roadside bomb on Monday near the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan, U.S. officials have confirmed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The U.S. military corrected on Tuesday its initial report on the incident, saying an Afghan contractor working with the U.S. forces and initially reported dead was in fact alive.
The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission said thenear the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, while three others were wounded in the explosion. The base in Bagram district serves as the main U.S. air facility in the country.
The wounded were evacuated and were receiving medical care, the statement said. It added that in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the names of service members killed in action were being withheld until after the notification of next of kin.
"The contractor who was reported as killed, is alive," the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan, Operation Resolute Support, said in a statement released Tuesday. "The contractor, an Afghan citizen, was initially treated along with other injured civilians, later identified as a contractor and treated at Bagram Airfield."
The fatalities, which bring to seven the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, underscore the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-wrecked country even as Washington has stepped up efforts to find a way to end the 17-year war, America's longest.
There are about 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, supporting embattled Afghan forces as they struggle on two fronts — facing a resurgent Taliban who now hold sway over almost half the country and also the Islamic State affiliate, which has sought to expand its footprint in Afghanistan even as its self-proclaimed "caliphate" has crumbled in Syria and Iraq.
Last year, 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months. The Taliban have refused to meet with the Afghan government, which they view as a U.S. puppet.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have agreed to take part in an all-Afghan gathering later this month in Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office. But the Taliban say they will not recognize any government official attending the gathering as a representative of the Kabul government, only as an individual Afghan participant.