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CIA: Two dead in Afghan ambush were agency workers

From David Ensor
CNN Washington Bureau

Unidentified anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan
Unidentified anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan

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Central Intelligence Agency
Acts of terror

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Americans killed in a recent ambush in Afghanistan were contract employees of the CIA, the agency said Tuesday.

In a written statement, the CIA said William Carlson of Southern Pines, North Carolina, and Christopher Glenn Mueller of San Diego, California, were civilian contractors for the agency who were tracking terrorists when they died Saturday.

CIA Director George Tenet said the two men were "defined by dedication and courage."

The CIA said Carlson and Mueller were longtime military Special Operations veterans before their work for the agency.

They died during a firefight near Shkin, Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said 10 suspected enemy fighters were killed by Afghan army troops, backed by U.S. helicopters and warplanes.

The rocky border area near Pakistan has been the scene of fierce battles recently as U.S. military forces and their Afghan allies have mounted attacks against resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas.

Pentagon sources said Monday that the men were State Department contract workers, but a State Department official denied they were employees. "None of our guys got hit," the official said. "We don't know who these guys are."

Sources elsewhere in the U.S. government suggested Monday that the two men worked for the CIA, but the agency declined to confirm it until Tuesday.

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