The town of Sangin is best known as the southern epicenter of the Afghanistan opium trade. Today, however, the Pashtun town of 14,000 captured a headline at the Wall Street Journal (Sniper in Afghan Town Puts Marines on Edge) for another reason: an insurgent sniper that the US Marine Corps wants dead. So far, the Sangin Sniper and an accomplice are responsible for two dead (one British and one American) and three wounded. Some of the shots were spectacular . . .

[A] British army engineer—20-year-old Darren Foster from Carlisle, England—was in a guard post in front of the same patrol base. British troops have built a covered, bunkered pathway so the guards aren’t exposed to enemy fire as they walk down from the hilltop base. The post is protected by bulletproof glass, except for small gaps through which the guards fire their weapons. The sniper timed his single shot and killed the engineer as he walked past the opening.

“He hit a moving target in a space this big,” said Capt. Jim Nolan, Lima Company’s commander, holding his hands about nine inches apart.

Another hit was bank shot:

Lance Cpl. Simpson, of Third Combat Engineer Battalion, was working [to free a stranded tank] and talking to some other Marines when he felt a hard blow to his head.

The sniper’s bullet had apparently hit the tank and ricocheted into the front right side of Lance Cpl. Simpson’s helmet. It punched into the Kevlar shell, but didn’t penetrate all the way.

Lance Cpl. Simpson, who was raised in Gary, Texas, can’t recall if he was knocked to the ground or threw himself there to avoid another shot. Another Marine dragged him to cover. He lay on his back as a friend pulled off his helmet to reveal a bloody welt on the right side of his forehead. Two Navy corpsmen, the Marine equivalent of Army medics, decided against stitches.

Now Marine scout-snipers are on the hunt in a deadly game of hide and seek. But they’re careful of giving the insurgent too much credit. One Marine sniper says, “He’s a decent shot – not a great shot.”

The American marksman estimates that the Sangin Sniper is operating at a range of 600 yards or less, based on the time between the sound of the shot and impact of each shooting that he witnessed.

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