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06 July 2017, 12:48 | Kara Nash
US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan, Bringing 2017 Combat Deaths to Seven
Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick of Wasilla, Alaska, died on Monday when he was struck by "indirect fire", a military term that usually encompasses rockets, mortars, or artillery, the USA military command in Kabul said in a statement.
The Army says an Alaska soldier serving in Afghanistan has died.
Pfc. Hansen Bradee Kirkpatrick, 19, was killed July 3 in Afghanistan's Helmand province by indirect fire during a partner operation alongside Afghan troops.
Two soldiers were also wounded in the attack, the press statement said. The Pentagon said the incident is under investigation.
"He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas", Pentagon added.
The death of a 19-year-old USA soldier in southern Afghanistan on Monday highlights the US military's evolving role in the war there under President Trump's administration, after years of President Barack Obama restricting the use of conventional combat troops on the battlefield.
There are now about 6,700 American service members training and advising Afghan forces - several hundred of them outside Afghanistan - while an additional 2,100 are deployed as part of a counterterrorism mission focused on uprooting a local ISIS affiliate in the eastern part of the country.
Kirkpatrick was the seventh US servicemember killed in action in Afghanistan in 2017. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Ala.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has promised to deliver Congress a new strategy for the 16-year-old war by mid-July. Soldiers returned fire after the explosion, killing two Taliban militants and wounding a few others. The addition of three to five thousand more troops makes up for that move, according to USA officials. Helmand Province has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the previous year, as the Taliban has attempted to push the Afghan government out of the province, which boasts vast poppy fields, the insurgent group's primary source of income. At least 300 Marines have been deployed to the province to train, advise and assist Afghan soldiers and police.
The previous US military fatalities in Afghanistan this year included three conventional USA soldiers - Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25; Sgt. William M. Bays, 29; and Cpl. In April, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed during a firefight with enemy forces, and Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas were killed in what's suspected to have been a friendly fire incident. A USA military spokesman in Kabul tells NPR's Tom Bowman that munitions hit a building while the group was inside it.
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