CIA employee first American killed in combat in Afghanistan

CIA officer Johnny (Mike) Spann was killed in a prison riot at Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, the first U.S. official known to be killed in action inside the country since U.S. bombing began, the CIA said Wednesday.

U.S. officials recovered his body Wednesday, several hours after northern alliance rebels backed by U.S. airstrikes and special forces quelled rioting by Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners, the Associated Press reported. The CIA provided no details on the circumstances of Spann's death.

Spann, who worked for the CIA's clandestine service, joined the agency in 1999 after serving in the Marine Corps. "Quiet, serious, and absolutely unflappable, Mike's stoicism concealed a dry sense of humor and a heart of gold," CIA Director George J. Tenet told agency employees Wednesday. "His was a career of promise of energy and achievement."

Seventy-nine CIA employees, including Spann, have died in the line of duty since the CIA's creation, according to an agency spokesman.

Tenet called Spann an American hero and said his fellow officers should "continue the mission that Mike Spann held" sacred. Four U.S. military personnel have been killed in connection with the fighting in Afghanistan, but all died in accidents outside the country. Eight journalists have also died.

Kellie Lunney contributed to this report.

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