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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 19:25 GMT
US admits first combat death
Red Cross workers retrieving bodies from the prison complex
Mr Spann's body was recovered on Wednesday
CIA officer Johnny Spann, killed during a prison riot, is the first American known to have died in action within Afghanistan since the US launched its military campaign in early October.


He was where he wanted to be: on the front lines serving his country

George Tenet
CIA Director
He was operating inside a prison complex where foreign Taleban fighters were being held when a bloody uprising began on Sunday. Hundreds of prisoners and dozens of Northern Alliance fighters died in the three-day battle which followed.

It is thought the 32-year-old former marine may have been involved in the interrogation of prisoners with links to America's chief terrorist suspect Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network.

His body was recovered from the battleground on Wednesday, after alliance forces - backed up by US air strikes - were able to permanently quell the revolt.

A BBC correspondent in Washington says it is most unusual for the CIA to admit the loss of any of its agents in operations on foreign soil.

Intelligence gathering

The CIA has been running covert operations inside Afghanistan in addition to the more public military efforts it launched on 7 October.

CIA officials are said to be providing funds and weapons to opposition groups, as well as trying to glean intelligence on the whereabouts of Bin Laden.

President George Bush
President Bush has warned of more deaths

Mr Spann, who had been with the intelligence agency for two years, is not the first American to die in an incident connected with the fighting in Afghanistan, but he is the first to have been killed in action within the country.

He is also thought to be the first CIA officer to have been killed in the line of duty since 1998.

Despite the significant gains made by the opposition on the ground in Afghanistan, President George W Bush has already warned that a particularly dangerous period lies ahead in the hunt for Bin Laden.

"America must be prepared for loss of life," the president told the nation earlier this week.

See also:

27 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Taleban prison revolt
28 Nov 01 | Media reports
Regional caution over US deployment
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Meeting Taleban's foreign fighters
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bloodbath at Afghan fort
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