A New York City police detective was among the six U.S. troops killed by a suicide bomb attack near Bagram air base in southern Afghanistan Monday.
Four of the airmen were OSI agents and the other two, including the detective, were security forces members of the New York Air National Guard, according to the Facebook page, which identifies six U.S. service members by last name only.
Nevertheless, New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters that Detective Joseph Lemm, a 15-year NYPD veteran, was one of the airmen killed when a suicide attacker rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol near Bagram, the largest U.S. military facility in Afghanistan, located in Helmand province, along the Pakistan border, Fox News reports.
“The attack happened as Taliban fighters overran a strategic district in southern Helmand province, the scene of some of the deadliest fighting between the Taliban and international combat forces prior to the 2014 withdrawal, adding weight to Pentagon predictions that the insurgency is gaining strength,” reports The Associated Press (AP).
AP quoted unnamed NATO and Afghan officials as saying that “the airmen were targeted as they moved through a village near Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military facility in Afghanistan.”
Detective Lemm had been deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq while also serving as an NYPD officer, according to Commissioner Bratton.
“Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first,” Bratton said in a statement. “Tonight, we grieve and we remember this selfless public servant who dedicated his life to protecting others.”
The NY detective and National Guard airman reportedly leaves behind a wife and three children.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter revealed that two other U.S. service members and an American contractor were wounded in the attack for which the Taliban has claimed responsibility. An Afghan was also reportedly wounded.
“It is with deep regret that I learned today that six U.S. service members died in Afghanistan Monday,” said Carter in a statement. “We are still learning all of the details, but two other service members and a U.S. contractor were also injured…It serves as a painful reminder of the dangers our troops face every day in Afghanistan.”
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of these brave Americans who died in service to this vital mission, and our thoughts remain with all of our troops serving overseas during this holiday season so that we may have peace and security at home,” he added.
The Taliban insurgency has intensified since President Obama ended the U.S. combat mission in December 2014 and withdrew most American troops from the war-torn nation.
An estimated 9,800 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan to train, assist and advice their Afghan counterparts who are supposed to be leading the fight against the Taliban.