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CIA operative killed in Afghan prison uprising

Thursday, November 29, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Rioting prisoners killed CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann at Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, the agency said Wednesday. He was the first American killed in action inside the country since U.S. bombing began seven weeks ago. Officials recovered his body from a prison compound only after northern alliance rebels backed by U.S. airstrikes and special forces quelled an uprising by Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners.

Spann, at the compound to interrogate prisoners, was caught inside when the riot began and had been missing since Sunday. The CIA provided few details of the circumstances of his death.

CIA Director George J. Tenet addressed agency employees Wednesday morning, saying Spann was an American hero and calling on fellow officers to "continue the mission that Mike Spann held sacred. And so we will continue our battle against evil with renewed strength and spirit," Tenet said, according to a statement.

President Bush said through a spokesman he regretted the death. "The president understands that this battle began Sept. 11," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. "There may be more injuries, there may be more deaths, and the president regrets each and every one."

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