1 US service member killed, 2 wounded in Afghanistan attack

Afghanistan US Airmen Killed
A U.S. Air Force officer speaks during a memorial ceremony for six Airmen killed in a suicide attack, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. The deadliest attack in Afghanistan since 2013 killed six U.S. troops on Monday, including a family man from Long Island, New York; a South Texan; a New York City police detective; a Georgia high school and college athlete; an expectant father from Philadelphia; and a major from suburban Minneapolis with ties to the military's LGBT community. They were killed when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle near Bagram Air Base, the Defense Department said. (Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys/U.S. Air Force via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A number of U.S. special operations troops were killed or wounded in fighting in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, U.S. defense officials said.

The fighting, which reflects intensified efforts by the U.S. and its Afghan partners to push back against recent Taliban gains, was near the city of Marja, Helmand province. The Taliban in recent weeks have focused their efforts on retaking parts of Helmand.

Details on the battle and the number wounded or killed was sketchy. A military spokesman in Kabul said the operation was “ongoing.”

One U.S. official said a U.S. helicopter was sent to evacuate casualties but did not immediately take off because a mortar landed nearby. It was not clear whether the mortar damaged the helicopter.

The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the fighting and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flesvig, said the helicopter was not shot down. He said it had landed with a mechanical problem.

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