On Monday, the Department of Defense released the names of those killed in a June 10 insider attack in Peka Valley, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan: Army Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland; Army Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California; and Army Cpl. Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina.
The soldiers were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Company D, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
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The three troops died of gunshots wounds which the Taliban later claimed responsibility for. Afghan officials identified the shooter as an Afghan commando, who turned on the U.S. troops and opened fire. The shooter was killed by return fire. A fourth U.S. soldier was also wounded and transported out of Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of our Soldiers who were killed and wounded,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan said in a statement. “We will always remember our fallen comrades and remain committed to the mission they carried out and for which they ultimately gave their lives.”
In March, three U.S. troops in Helmand province were wounded when an Afghan soldier opened fire on them, and since 2008 there have been as many as 95 insider attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Though the insider attack was reportedly carried out by the Taliban, the service members killed were involved in operations against ISIS-K in Nangarhar province, a volatile region. Earlier today a convoy carrying Afghan and U.S. military personnel came under attack in the province.
“We can confirm that a convoy was struck by a roadside bomb and attacked with small arms fire in Nangarhar province,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Monday. “The convoy returned fire in self-defense and there were no U.S. casualties.”
Three other U.S. troops have been killed while involved in operations against the Islamic State in Afghanistan this year, and according to the New York Times, all six combat deaths in 2017 have been from those involved in operations against ISIS-K.
An offshoot of the Islamic State, ISIS-K, has established a foothold in Nangarhar province’s Achin District, where the U.S. military dropped the GBU-43/B, or the “Mother of All Bombs,” just days after the first U.S. service member was killed in April.