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Utah soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan; 11 others hurt

An American soldier who was killed in Afghanistan Wednesday was from Utah.
An American soldier who was killed in Afghanistan Wednesday was from Utah.
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DRAPER — A Utah National Guard member died during combat in Afghanistan on Wednesday.

And 11 more members of the Utah unit were injured in the operation against a group affiliated with the Islamic State, said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard.

"Our hearts go out to those families," Burton said. "Events like this remind us of the fact that we've still got a lot of our members in harm's way."

The name of the soldier who died was withheld pending notification of family members.

Some of the wounded from the Beehive State on Wednesday could walk and had less serious injuries, Burton said, and at least three were brought to trauma hospitals. He did not know late Wednesday what condition they were in.

The Utah Guard has 133 soldiers currently deployed "in that sector of the world," Burton said, including engineers, intelligence and combat soldiers.

Burton said he had very limited information and declined to say if the wounded group was with a specific unit. Utah "has various units" with different focuses, Burton said.

"It's a variety of missions."

The service members were working with Afghan Forces to limit Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, which is believed to be a piece of al-Qaida that plans attacks against Western entities.

The wounded soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment.

Six Utah Guard members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan or in operations related to those wars, Burton said.

The most recent was Sgt. 1st Class James Thode, a member of a Blanding National Guard unit who was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving with the 118th Engineer Sapper Company. He was a police officer, husband and father of two kids from Farmington, New Mexico.

Burton is expected to release more information at a news conference Thursday morning.

Roughly 14,000 U.S. and NATO troops currently are in Afghanistan. The Trump administration is weighing whether to send about 4,000 or more U.S. soldiers.

Contributing: Jeff Caplan