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By Phil Helsel

Two Air Force special operations airmen were the NATO troops killed in an ambush in Afghanistan Wednesday, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, of Lexington, Kentucky, and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, of Pensacola, Florida, died after gunmen wearing Afghan security forces uniforms opened fire on their vehicle while it was stopped at a checkpoint near Camp Antonik, the Air Force said.

"The losses of Matt and Forrest are a terrible blow to everyone who knew them,” Col. Wolfe Davidson, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, said in a statement.

"These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation's Special Operations Forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation,” he said,

The gunmen who attacked the vehicle in Helmand province were fatally shot by NATO troops that returned fire, according to a statement from the coalition.

Roland was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron based at Hulbert Field, Florida, and Sibley was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron based at Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina, the Department of Defense said.

Roland had been in the Air Force for five years and had been deployed three times, Air Force Special Operations Command said. Sibley had been in the service for seven years and received the Bronze Star four times, the Air Force said.

This has been a deadly week for Americans in Afghanistan. On Saturday, three American contractors were killed when a suicide car bomber attacked a U.S. convoy in Kabul. Twelve people in all were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

On Aug. 8, Army Special Forces soldier Master Sgt. Peter A. McKenna Jr. was killed during an attack on a base outside Kabul.

The U.S. and NATO ended combat operations in Afghanistan in December. U.S. and coalition troops remain in the country to train and advise Afghan security forces.

An Afghan security member frisks a man at a checkpoint on a roadside in Helmand, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2015. Security has been intensified after two foreign soldiers were killed on Wednesday. Two people wearing Afghan security forces uniforms opened fire at their vehicle at an Afghan National Defense and Security Forces compound in Helmand province. "Service members returned fire and killed the shooters," the military alliance said in a statement.WATAN YAR / EPA