An Afghan soldier stands with his RPG rocket as a site bombed by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike is seen in background.AP photo
KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Special Forces soldiers conducting a daring nighttime operation freed a kidnapped American working for the Army Corps of Engineers — the first known hostage rescue by American forces in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a U.S.-led coalition airstrike hit an Afghan army checkpoint Wednesday, killing nine soldiers, Afghan officials said.
The U.S. acknowledged that its forces “may have mistakenly killed and injured” Afghan soldiers in what may have been a case of mistaken identity “on both sides.” The deaths come as Afghan President Hamid Karzai presses international forces to avoid airstrikes in civilian areas.
The kidnapped American, who was abducted in mid-August, had been held in a growing insurgent stronghold 30 miles west of Kabul, U.S. military officials told The Associated Press. They said several insurgents were killed in last week’s mission to free him.
Taliban militants have kidnapped dozens of international aid workers, journalists and other foreigners in recent years and have demanded large ransoms or the release of imprisoned Taliban fighters for their freedom. Increasingly aggressive crime syndicates have also raked in big money by kidnapping wealthy Afghans and foreigners and demanding ransoms.
Hostage rescues are rarely attempted and are difficult to pull off successfully. Only two such missions are known to have occurred, both in 2007. In one, both Italian captives were wounded in a raid by Italian commandos.
Last week’s rescue came to the attention of the AP after a U.S. military official sought to bring its successful outcome into the public eye. Officials declined to reveal even the smallest detail or the captive’s identity, saying they did not want to compromise military tactics or the man’s safety.