Slain commando part of YC family
The son-in-law of a Yuba-Sutter businessman has been identified as the final member found of a special forces team that went missing in Afghanistan last month.
The body of Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, a Navy SEAL, was found in the Kunar province, rescuers said Monday. Axelson was the son-in-law of Ardie and Arlene Oji of Yuba City, and the husband of former Yuba City resident Cindy Oji.
Ardie Oji was out of the area and not available for comment on Monday.
The four-man special forces unit of which Axelson was a member disappeared after a June 28 ambush in the rugged mountains in the east of the country. One of the four was rescued July 3, and two were found dead the next day.
Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command at Pearl Harbor, said Axelson's body was found in roughly the same area where the bodies of the other two SEALS were recovered.
"It was his platoonmates that went out, were the ones that found him and the ones that brought him home," Maguire said.
He said rumors of Axelson being captured and killed by insurgents were "absolutely false."
U.S. military spokesman Col. James Yonts said the injuries on Axelson's body were consistent with "a firefight, a combat operation with smalls arms fire, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) rounds."
Elsewhere, four suspected Arab terrorists broke out of a U.S. military detention facility in Afghanistan on Monday, fleeing through barbed wire stockades in the first escape from the compound since the American military took over the former Soviet airbase.
U.S. and Afghan forces launched a manhunt for the suspects, identified as Arabs from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya. U.S. soldiers set up roadblocks and helicopters clattered low over villages near the heavily guarded base north of the capital, Kabul.
Bagram is in a wide, dusty plain at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains, and much of the area around the base remains mined from Afghanistan's civil war and Soviet occupation. The base itself is surrounded by a series of barbed wire fences and is intensely guarded by U.S. troops. The main entrance is a series of checkpoints and all visitors are checked several times by U.S. military guards.
The escapes were another setback for the U.S. military as it struggles with insurgent fighting that has left more than 700 people dead in three months and threatened to sabotage three years of progress toward peace. Over the weekend, 22 Afghan soldiers were killed, including 10 who were beheaded.
The four terrorist were identified as Abdullah from Syria, Mohammed al-Qatari from Saudi Arabia, Mahmood Ahmad from Kuwait and Abulbakar Mohammed Hassan from Libya, according to local police chief Abdulrahman Mawalana.
"They are considered dangerous and are suspected terrorists," U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cindy Moore told The Associated Press.
Local government chief Kaber Ahmad said, "coalition forces, police and Afghan troops have surrounded several villages near the base," and have distributed photos of the four, who have short hair and long beards.
In the pictures, the men are wearing orange prison outfits and one man is grinning. Descriptions under the photos describe two of them as of Middle Eastern descent and the other as Arab. There is no description of the fourth.
Moore declined to identify the four escapees or elaborate on why they were being held. Another military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara, described them only as "enemy combatants."
He said it was the first time anyone has broken out of Bagram's detention facility, where most of about 500 detainees in Afghanistan are held.
Suspected militants have broken out of other detention facilities. In 2003, 41 suspected Taliban rebels escaped from a government-run jail in the southern city of Kandahar by digging a tunnel.
U.S. and Afghan officials have warned the violence is likely to worsen ahead of legislative elections in September.
An airborne infantry battalion of about 700 troops based in North Bragg, N.C., was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan to bolster the 20,000-strong U.S.-led coalition so it can "enhance security during the election," Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, a deputy commanding general, said in a statement.
Associated Press correspondents Daniel Cooney and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.