Two CIA agents killed in Afghan ambush

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The Independent Online

Two CIA operatives have been killed in an ambush in Afghanistan, the CIA said yesterday.

The two men, both former members of the special forces on contract to the agency, were said to have been tracking suspected terrorists in eastern Afghanistan when they were attacked on Saturday. The ambush was near the village of Shkin, the CIA said.

In a statement released last night, the men were named as William Carlson, 43, from North Carolina, and Christopher Mueller, 32, from San Diego, California. Both were working for the agency's directorate of operations, which carries out clandestine intelligence gathering and other covert operations. Mr Carlson had worked in army special operations, while Mr Mueller was a veteran of Navy special operations.

"[They] were defined by dedication and courage," said the CIA's director George Tenet. "Their sacrifice for the peoples of the United States must never be forgotten."

The details of the men's mission and the identity of who they were tracking at the time of the ambush were not released. The agency also declined to offer details about the nature of the ambush, though the area in which the men were killed - on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan - is believed to be the hiding place of the al-Qa'ida leader, Osama bin Laden.

The men are the third and fourth CIA operatives that the agency has acknowledged have been killed in Afghanistan since the US military operation against al-Qa'ida and the Taliban began.

The first to be killed was Johnny Spann, who died following an uprising of Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners in November 2001. Another agent was killed in a training accident last February.