KABUL - The Taliban claimed Sunday that they killed a U.S. sailor and kidnapped another as NATO forces ramped up a massive search for the servicemen, who went missing two days earlier in an area held by the militants.
The coalition force set up checkpoints and distributed fliers with the sailors' pictures and are offering thousands of dollars in rewards for their return. There were conflicting reports about whether the body of one of the two had been recovered.
U.S. and NATO officials confirmed that two American Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar, after an armored sport utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area. NATO officials were unable to say what they were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.
The visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters Sunday that while he did not have all the details about the missing servicemen, "from what I know right now, this is an unusual circumstance."
Mullen said he could not comment on the Taliban claim that one American was killed and the other captured. He says the U.S. was doing all it could to "return to American hands anybody who has been captured or killed."
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Sunday that one American was killed and the other was captured. He said both were taken to a "safe area" and "are in the hands of the Taliban."
Meanwhile Sunday, the Taliban posted a message in English and Arabic on its website saying one American service member had been kidnapped in Logar and said another was killed in a shootout, according to SITE Intelligence Group.
Hundreds of fliers, with reprinted photos of the two missing sailors, have been distributed in Logar. A $20,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to their location. - AP