Monday, October 5, 2009

2 NATO soldiers reported killed in Afghanistan

KABUL – Bombs killed two NATO troopers, including one American, following the deadliest attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan in more than a year, military officials said Monday.

A NATO statement said a U.S. soldier died of wounds suffered in a bombing Sunday in southern Afghanistan.

The statement said a second service member died of wounds in a roadside bombing Monday, also in the south, but the victim's nationality was not released.

At least 16 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month — matching the American death toll for all of October in 2008.

The latest deaths followed a fierce weekend assault on a pair of remote outposts in the northeastern province of Nuristan in which eight U.S. service members were killed and about 20 Afghan security troopers were captured. It was the deadliest attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan in more than a year.

Afghan officials reported the situation in Nuristan was generally calm Monday after two days of fighting in the remote area near the border with Pakistan. The assault began at dawn Saturday in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province and raged throughout the day. Sporadic clashes were reported Sunday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay said the assailants included a mix of "tribal militias," Taliban and fighters loyal to Sirajuddin Haqqani, an al-Qaida-linked militant based in sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the Afghan border.

The top U.S. and NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, plans to shift U.S. troops away from remote outposts that are difficult to defend and move them into more heavily populated areas as part of his new strategy to focus on protecting Afghan civilians.

McChrystal has said more resources are needed to fight the Taliban and has asked for up to 40,000 more troops.

Some of President Barack Obama's advisers oppose a major increase and have suggested the U.S. focus on going after al-Qaida figures across the border in Pakistan.

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