Three U.S. Marines injured in blast; in stable condition
From Mike Chinoy
KANDAHAR (CNN) -- The three U.S. Marines wounded in Sunday's landmine incident near Kandahar airport are in stable condition, officials said Monday.
The most seriously hurt has been transferred to a hospital outside Afghanistan, officials said. The other two, who suffered less-severe shrapnel injuries, were taken to a field hospital at Camp Rhino, about 70 miles south of Kandahar Airport.
The three had been walking toward a house through a field they thought had already been cleared of mines when one of the Marines set off a mine, officials said. The Marine casualties in Kandahar are the first since the military occupied the airport recently.
Light-armored vehicles raced down the runway after the blast. A Huey helicopter was brought in and three people were seen being put on it. One person was in a stretcher with an IV, witnesses said.
Thousands of mines are believed to be scattered near the airport, located in an area that was mined first during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s, officials said. More mines were planted in the 1990s during the Afghan civil war. Most recently, the Taliban mined it.
Despite the mines, the airport was open and active over the weekend. Twelve C-130 transport planes landed Sunday in a rainstorm, a freak occurrence in the largely arid region.
The planes also brought in material to repair the runways, pocked with bomb craters. The repair work was to begin immediately, officials said.
A detention facility for captured prisoners has already been erected. Meanwhile, the search for land mines continued.
Marines searching the airport have found weapons and unexploded ordnance left by Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, officials said. The inventory includes anti-aircraft guns, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, officials said.
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