One member of the US armed forces has been killed and two others wounded in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, where there has been fierce fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan government forces, the US military says.
- There's been fierce fighting between Taliban insurgents and Afghan government forces in Helmand for months
- Pentagon says "situation fluid" but incident likely to be continuing
- First US military death in 2016 underscores ongoing cost of 15-year American engagement
The soldier was killed when American special operations troops came under fire in the town of Marjah while accompanying Afghan special operations forces, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
He said a US helicopter was damaged in the incident and Afghan troops also were injured in the fighting.
Mr Cook said two medical evacuation helicopters were sent to help - one returned to base after taking fire while the second landed safely but struck a wall, damaged its rotor blades, and remained on the ground.
"My understanding is that there may still be Americans on the ground in this immediate situation engaging with the enemy in support of Afghan forces," Mr Cook said.
"This is a fluid situation.
"US special operators are ... allowed to engage and train, advise and assist their special operations counterparts.
"They've been in Helmand province providing this kind of support in the past."
The US military death is the first in Afghanistan in 2016 and it highlights the continuing danger faced by American troops who have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001.
For more than six months, Helmand has been the scene of battles between insurgents and security forces who have complained of being abandoned by the US-backed Afghan government.
After months of heavy fighting, the deputy governor of the volatile southern province said in December that Helmand could fall to the Taliban.