Injured U.S. Marines out of Afghanistan
From Mike Chinoy
KANDAHAR (CNN) -- The three U.S. Marines seriously wounded in Sunday's landmine incident near Kandahar airport have been taken to hospitals outside of Afghanistan for treatment, officials said Monday.
One of the Marines lost a leg, one suffered a head wound and the third had a hand injury, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said.
The three had been walking toward a house through a field they thought had been cleared of explosives 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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