Updated Feb 9, 2020 - World

Pentagon identifies 2 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan shootout

A U.S. flag at a base in Afghanistan in November 2014. Photo: Wakil Koshar/AFP via Getty Images

Two American service members were killed and six others wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday in a firefight, the U.S. military said in a statement to news outlets including Axios.

The latest: The two soldiers killed were named by the Defense Department Sunday as Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, and Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28. They were both posthumously promoted.

Details: "[R]eports indicate an individual in an Afghan uniform opened fire on the combined U.S. and Afghan force with a machine gun" in Sherzad district, Nangarhar province, the statement said. The wounded were being treated at a U.S. medical facility following the attack.

  • A Nangarhar provincial council official told AP "the gunman was killed."
  • Col. Sonny Leggett, spokesperson for the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement earlier that a combined U.S. and Afghan force were "conducting an operation in Nangarhar province" when they were "engaged by direct fire."
  • "We are still collecting information and the cause or motive behind the attack is unknown at this time," Leggett said in the later statement.

The big picture: U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been in Qatar in recent weeks meeting with representatives of the Taliban, which has been active in Nangarhar province, per AP.

Where it stands: More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of the country following the Sept. 11 attacks.

  • 23 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan in 2019 — the most to die in one year while fighting militant groups there since 2014.

Go deeper: Trump may reduce troops in Afghanistan without Taliban deal

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

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