The Pentagon identified two American soldiers killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb Saturday in southern Afghanistan. 29-year-old Ian McLaughlin of Newport News was an Army staff sergeant assigned to an engineering battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Miguel A. Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, according to a release.
The U.S. soldiers were conducting operations as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission. The Taliban confirmed they were behind the attack, with Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman, taking responsibility in statements to media outlets. Both were a part of Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"When our nation asked for its best airborne combat engineers to deploy in danger, Master Sergeant. Villalon responded without hesitation", said Col. Art Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Last year was the deadliest in five years for the United States in Afghanistan, killing 23 staff members during operations in the country in 2019.
Two other US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division were wounded in the attack, which occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the division said.
The service members were conducting operations on Saturday when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in an attack which was claimed by the Taliban. Both soldiers were on their first combat deployment to Afghanistan.
Local media are reporting two others were wounded and are being treated at a hospital.
Villalon joined the military in 2018 and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in 2019, where he served as a combat engineer.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the USA peace envoy has been pushing the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire or at least scale back their attacks. The Taliban usually claim casualties and inflate figures when targeting Afghan and foreign troops.
A senior Afghan military official in Kandahar said the roadside bomb attack occurred in the Dand district.
Since the start of America's longest war in 2001, more than 2,400 people have died in the US. About 5,000 of them are doing counterterrorism missions.