Eight US soldiers killed in Afghan blasts

KABUL, May 27 (AFP): Eight soldiers killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan were Americans, the Pentagon confirmed, in one of the worst single incidents in recent months. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the soldiers were killed by two successive blasts on Thursday in the same location in Shorabak district in Kandahar province.
Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, and fighting there in the coming months is likely to prove a key test of foreign forces' ability to hold ground in the south taken from insurgents last year after a troop surge. Local border police commander Tafseer Khan Khogyani said the attack, which also killed two Afghan policemen, took place as coalition and Afghan forces were on patrol about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the Pakistan border.
"As they approached a container, explosives that had been placed inside went off, causing a huge explosion," he said.
Kandahar border police chief General Abdul Razeq said that the container was used as an ammunition store by Taliban fighters smuggling weapons across the border from Pakistan. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast, which was initially announced by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The bombing brings to 199 the number of foreign troops who have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an AFP tally based on that kept by the independent website iCasualties.org. Of those, 148 were from the United States. The total international force death toll for last year was 711.
The blast caused ISAF's highest death toll in a single incident since April 27, when nine Americans -- eight troops and a contractor -- were killed by an Afghan officer who opened fire at a Kabul military training centre.


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