The U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, landed Monday in Afghanistan’s contested Marjah region despite small-arms fire on the ground, U.S. officials said.

P.J. Crowley, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, dismissed reports that Mr. Holbrooke’s Osprey aircraft was fired on by insurgents.

He said it belonged in the category of “first reports are usually wrong.” Crowley said Holbrooke was airborne, and his plane was not affected or hit by enemy fire.

“While they were airborne, they were aware of small-arms fire below in the general vicinity of Marjah, but it did not affect the airplane itself,” Mr. Crowley said.

According to ABC News, Taliban gunmen tried to shoot down the Osprey. Several suicide bombings were carried out after his departure, the report said.

Mr. Holbrooke was visiting Marjah for a first-hand assessment of U.S. - led NATO efforts to take over a Taliban-controlled region that they had hoped would set an example for tougher battles to follow.

Troops have met with stiff resistance, which has delayed plans to take on the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar province this summer.

Mr. Holbrooke was also to visit Kandahar.

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