KABUL A U.S. soldier died of a gunshot wound on Sunday in the normally safe northern Afghan province of Balkh, which borders Uzbekistan, the U.S. military said in a statement.
No details were released other than to say the death was being investigated by the U.S. military authorities. Combat deaths are rare in the province, the capital of which is the relatively prosperous city of Mazar-i-Sharif, near the Uzbek border.
Afghanistan is bracing for a major bout of spring fighting when the snows melt in a few months. Last year was the bloodiest since a U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001.
More than 4,000 people were killed in fighting in 2006, a quarter of them civilians and more than 170 of them foreign soldiers.