A suicide attacker rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol Monday, killing six American troops, including an NYPD officer, in the deadliest attack on international forces since August.
The attack happened as Taliban fighters overran a strategic district in southern Helmand province, the scene of some of the deadliest fighting between the Taliban and international combat forces prior to the 2014 withdrawal, adding weight to Pentagon predictions that the insurgency is gaining strength. The soldiers were targeted as they moved through a village near Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military facility in Afghanistan, NATO and Afghan officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
A U.S. official confirmed that six American troops were killed and two wounded. An Afghan was also wounded. Among the dead was NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm, ABC7 News reports.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton released a statement on his death saying: "Earlier today, we lost one of our Finest in a suicide bombing in Bagram, Afghanistan. Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his county and city first. Detective Lemm not only served New Yorkers as a member of this Department, but served his country as a member of the U.S. Air National Guard. Detective Lemm was a 15-year veteran of the NYPD and was promoted to Detective in January of 2014, serving in the Bronx Warrant Squad. As a member of the NYPD, Detective Lemm was deployed three times, twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. Detective Lemm leaves behind a wife and two children. Tonight, we grieve and we remember this selfless public servant who dedicated his life to protecting others."
PBA President Pat Lynch also released a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Det. Joseph Lemm, Bronx Warrant Squad, who was killed while serving with the U.S. Air National Guard in Afghanistan. His selfless dedication to both his city and his country made him truly the finest of the Finest. His memory will be honored and his sacrifice will never be forgotten."