- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — One of two U.S. sailors missing in Afghanistan since last week has been confirmed dead and his body recovered, a NATO spokesman said Tuesday.

The search continues for the other missing sailor, said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The two Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar after an armored sport utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area. NATO officials were unable to say what they were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban said previously that they killed one of the two men in a firefight and captured the other.

Jim Kerr, a Colorado legislator from the Denver suburb of Littleton, said the sailor killed was his wife’s nephew, Justin McNeley, 30. He said the family learned of his death Monday. He said the sailor’s mother is in Kingman, Ariz., but declined to give her name.

Mr. Kerr told the Denver Post that Justin McNeley, a noncommissioned officer and father of two sons, was due to return to the United States in August.

The Taliban has said the captured sailor is in a “safe place” where he will not be found.

In a statement, the NATO-led command said the body was recovered Sunday after an extensive search and that the coalition “holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member.”

The only other American service member in Taliban captivity is Spc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who disappeared June 30, 2009, in Paktika province, also in eastern Afghanistan. That area is heavily infiltrated by the Haqqani network, which has deep links to al Qaeda. Spc. Bergdahl has since appeared on videos posted on Taliban websites confirming his captivity.

New York Times reporter David Rohde also was kidnapped in Logar province while trying to meet with a Taliban commander. He and an Afghan colleague escaped in June 2009 after seven months in captivity, most of it spent in Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Hundreds of fliers, with reprinted photos of the two sailors, have been distributed throughout Logar province, where NATO troops were stopping vehicles, searching them and those inside. NATO has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the surviving sailor’s location.

Separately, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Tuesday that a British soldier who was serving with a task force working to counter homemade bombs died Monday in a blast in the Sangin district of Helmand province.

And in the relatively peaceful eastern province of Parwan, insurgents killed six Afghan construction workers and kidnapped a government official, NATO said.

The construction workers were driving through Siagerd district Monday when they came under fire from insurgents. Afghan police responded and drove back the militants, who kidnapped the district attorney general as they fled, NATO said.

Taliban insurgents regularly target civilians they see as complicit with the government, including those working on government-funded projects such as roads and public buildings.

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