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US soldier killed in Afghanistan

A US soldier was killed Monday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced that Pfc. Hansen B. Kirkpatrick, 19, of Wasilla, Alaska died from wounds received during an “indirect fire attack.” Two soldiers were also wounded in the attack, though their injuries are not considered life threatening. The incident is under investigation.

Kirkpatrick was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division based in Fort Bliss, Texas.

“At a time when we remember the patriots who founded our nation in freedom, we are saddened by the loss of one of our comrades who was here protecting our freedom at home,” said General John Nicholson, Commander, US Forces-Afghanistan in a statement. “We will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers as we reflect on the sacrifice he and others have made to secure our freedoms and help make Afghanistan a better place.”

There has been fierce fighting in Helmand where Afghan security forces have been locked in constant clashes with Taliban insurgents, who have managed to reestablish a significant presence in the area. At least 300 Marines have been deployed to the province to train, advise and assist Afghan soldiers and police.

US and coalition casualties in Afghanistan have become rarer in recent years, falling dramatically since the Afghan government assumed responsibility for combat operations in 2014.

However, there’s been an uptick in violence in recent months. Three US soldiers were killed and another wounded in June during a joint US-Afghan military operation in Nangarhar Province. In late April, two US service members were killed and another wounded while conducting a joint raid in the Achin District in Nangarhar.