2 U.S. sol­diers, 1 a Vir­ginian, killed by bomb along­side road in Afghanista­n

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - LOCAL & STATE -

KABUL, Afghanista­n — Two U.S. ser­vice mem­bers, in­clud­ing a Vir­ginian, were killed and two oth­ers in­jured Satur­day when their ve­hi­cle was hit by a road­side bomb in south­ern Afghanista­n, the Pen­tagon said in a state­ment.

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials iden­ti­fied the two sol­diers killed as 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaugh­lin of New­port News and 21-year-old Pfc. Miguel A. Vil­lalon of Joliet, Ill. Both were as­signed to 307th Brigade En­gi­neer Bat­tal­ion, 3rd Brigade Com­bat Team, 82nd Air­borne Di­vi­sion, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Tal­iban took re­spon­si­bil­ity for Satur­day’s at­tack. A Tal­iban spokesman, Qari Yu­souf Ah­madi, said it oc­curred in Kan­da­har prov­ince in south­ern Afghanista­n.

More than 2,400 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers have been killed in Afghanista­n. Last year was the dead­li­est for them since 2014, with 23 Amer­i­can troops killed, even as Wash­ing­ton en­gaged in peace talks with the Tal­iban.

The lat­est at­tack seemed cer­tain to stall fresh ef­forts to restart the peace talks be­tween Wash­ing­ton and the Tal­iban.

Ear­lier Satur­day, both NATO and Afghan of­fi­cials had con­firmed a road­side bomb hit a U.S. Army ve­hi­cle, with­out men­tion­ing ca­su­al­ties. In a short state­ment, a NATO spokesman said of­fi­cials were still “as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion and will pro­vide more in­for­ma­tion as it be­came avail­able.”

An Afghan of­fi­cial said the at­tack was in the Dand dis­trict of Kan­da­har. The of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to speak with me­dia and re­quested anonymity.

In Novem­ber, two U.S. ser­vice mem­bers were killed when their he­li­copter crashed in Logar prov­ince in east­ern Afghanista­n. The U.S. mil­i­tary at the time said pre­lim­i­nary re­ports did not in­di­cate it was caused by en­emy fire, although the Tal­iban claimed to have shot down the he­li­copter — a claim the U.S. mil­i­tary de­nied.

The U.S. cur­rently has about 13,000 troops in Afghanista­n.

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