The U.S. Department of Defense identified two American soldiers killed over the weekend in an improvised explosive device blast in southern Afghanistan claimed by the Taliban.
Staff Sergeant Ian P. McLaughlin and Private First Class Miguel A. Villalon were killed on Saturday, January 11 when their vehicle struck an IED in Kandahar province, the Pentagon said.
The two were part of a patrol in Dand district near Kanadar airport, AFP reported the province’s police spokesperson Jamal Nasir Barkzai as saying. Two other soldiers were wounded, NATO’s Resolute Support mission said over the weekend.
McLaughlin, 29, and Villalon, 21, were assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The Taliban has said it was behind the IED blast that killed the two soldiers, the first two Americans killed in Afghanistan this year. Last year 20 U.S. personnel, mostly Special Forces soldiers, were killed in the country – making it the deadliest year for U.S. forces since 2014, despite talks with the insurgent group to end 18 years of war.
Taliban spokesperson Zabijullah Mujahdid tweeted that the group was responsible, claiming the blast killed everyone on board. The Taliban is known to exaggerate American casualties.