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Redwood City Soldier Among 6 Dead In Afghanistan Attack

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Specialist Derek T. Simonetta (U.S. Department of Defense)

Specialist Derek T. Simonetta (U.S. Department of Defense)

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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (CBS 5/AP) — Six American soldiers killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan were members of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, including one from the Bay Area and another from San Diego, according to the military.

The Department of Defense said Spc. Derek T. Simonetta, 21, of Redwood City was killed Sunday when an explosives-packed minibus blew up at the entrance of a joint NATO-Afghan base in Kandahar province.

Spc. Kenneth E. Necochea Jr., 21, of San Diego was also killed, as were: Cpl. Sean M.  Collins, 25, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii; Cpl. Willie A. McLawhorn Jr., 23, of Conway, N.C.; Spc. Patrick D. Deans, 22, of Orlando, Fla.; and Spc. Jorge E.  Villacis, 24, of Sunrise, Fla.

All six were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

The Army said the attacker used enough explosives to bring down the building the soldiers were in.

The division’s commander, Maj. Gen. John Campbell, said during a videoconference from Afghanistan that 11 soldiers were wounded in the Sunday attack but many were able to return to duty.

Campbell said the attack vehicle was loaded with an estimated 1,000 pounds of explosives. He said the vehicle got past an Afghan security point near a joint NATO-Afghan outpost and hit a wall near the building where the six soldiers were.

Fort Campbell has lost 104 soldiers this year in Afghanistan, where the division has fielded fighters in some of the country’s most violent regions.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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