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May 26th, 2011

Roadside Bomb Kills 8 U.S. Troops in Afghan South

Chopper crash also kills an American in one of worst tolls of year

A U.S. armored military vehicle is parked near a building that was attacked by Taliban fighters in Kandahar on May 8, 2011. Afghan security forces clashed with militants in Kandahar for a second day after the Taliban unleashed a major assault on government buildings in the southern city. (Photo credit: Allauddin Khan / AP)

The Associated Press and NBC News via
May 26, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — Eight U.S. service members were killed Thursday in Afghanistan when powerful bombs exploded in a field where they were patrolling on foot, officials said.

Two Afghan policemen also died in the explosion in the mountainous Shorabak district of Kandahar province, 12 miles from the Pakistan border, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, chief of the Afghan border police in the province.

“Two months ago, we cleared this area of terrorists, but still they are active there,” Raziq said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast. …

Seven Americans were killed instantly in the blasts from two IEDs, U.S. officials told NBC News. An eighth member of the U.S. military unit later died of his wounds. …

Another American was killed when a U.S. attack helicopter crashed in Eastern Afghanistan, bringing the total number killed Thursday to nine. U.S. officials said they did not know yet whether it was an accident or if the chopper was brought down by enemy fire. An investigation has been launched. …

It was the deadliest day for coalition forces in Afghanistan since April 27, when a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire at Kabul airport and killed eight U.S. troops and an American civilian contractor [link added].

Thursday’s blast was the worst single attack against NATO forces by one of the Taliban’s crude, homemade bombs since Oct. 27, 2009. Seven soldiers from a unit based in Fort Lewis, Wash., died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Arghandab district, also in Kandahar province [link added].

Roadside bombs killed 268 American troops in Afghanistan last year, a 60 percent increase over the previous year, even as the Pentagon employed new measures to counter the Taliban’s makeshift weapon of choice. Defense officials attributed the rise in casualties to the surge in U.S. forces in Afghanistan last year.

The number of U.S. troops wounded by what the military terms improvised explosive devices also soared, according to the most recent U.S. defense figures. There were 3,366 U.S. service members injured in IED blasts — up from the 1,211 hurt by the militants’ crudely made bombs in 2009, the figures show. …

Tens of thousands of U.S., NATO and Afghan forces have been working for months to rout the Taliban from their strongholds in the south. The Taliban have retaliated with targeted assassinations of Afghan officials and attacks on Afghan and coalition forces. Eastern Afghanistan, along the Pakistan border, also has been the scene of heavy violence.

On May 1, insurgents declared the start of a spring offensive against NATO and the Afghan government [link added].  NATO has been expecting the Taliban to stage a series of spectacular and complex attacks, and the group has already carried out a number of them recently.

The effectiveness of the Taliban’s long-awaited spring campaign, code-named Badr after one of the Prophet Muhammad’s decisive military victories, could affect the size of President Barack Obama’s planned drawdown of U.S. troops in July. Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has said the size of the withdrawal will depend on conditions on the ground.

The alliance has committed itself to handing over control of security in the country to Afghans by 2014.

Thirty-eight international service members have been killed so far this month, including at least 13 Americans. So far this year, 189 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan.

Full story


Related reports on this site

Rogue Afghan Shoots U.S. Trainers (April 27, 2011)

Imminent Afghan Spring Offensive (April 16, 2011)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — May 26, 2010

Minnesota Guard Iraq-Bound

One year ago today, I reported that the Department of Defense alerted the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, to stand by for deployment to Iraq in summer 2011.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — May 26, 2009

6 Americans Slain in 2 Wars


Two years ago today, on May 26, 2009, I reported that suicide bombings in Afghanistan’s northern Kapisa province and Iraq’s western Anbar province killed six Americans — three in each theater.

4 Responses to “Dark Day for US in Afghanistan”
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