Feb. 9 (UPI) — Two U.S. Special Forces members were killed and six others wounded when a man wearing an Afghan uniform opened fire on a joint base in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, U.S. military confirmed Sunday.
The Department of Defense identified the fatalities as Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, N.M. The men, who were posthumous promoted to first sergeant, were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Airborne Group in Eglin Air Force Base in western Florida.
In addition, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said one of its soldiers was also killed in the attack Saturday, a U.S. official told CNN.
Initially Saturday, U.S. military officials gave sketchy details, only saying American and Afghan forces came under direct fire during an operation in the Nangarhar province.
A person with a machine gun opened fire on the Sherzad district center, said Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesman for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
“Upon completing a key-leader engagement at the district center, current reports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun,” Col.Sonny Leggett said in a statement to Military Times. “We are still collecting information and the cause or motive behind the attack is unknown at this time.”
The assailant in army uniform was killed, the governor of the eastern Afghan province, Shah Mahmood Miakhel, told Voice of America.
It was not immediately clear whether the deadly attack stemmed from a misunderstanding or the shooter was an “influenced” person. The Taliban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
The wounded soldiers were receiving medical treatment at a U.S. facility.
About 13,000 American troops are stationed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, a NATO-led Resolute Support mission of training and advising Afghan security forces battling the Taliban.
During the State of the Union address last Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed intentions to withdraw from Afghanistan.
“I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them innocent,” Trump said. “It is also not our function to serve other nations as a law enforcement agency. These are warfighters, the best in the world, and they either want to fight to win or not fight at all. We are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home.”