5 U.S. troops, dozens of Afghans killed in attacks
A wave of violence swept across Afghanistan on Saturday, leaving five American troops and dozens of Afghans dead and underscoring the Taliban’s growing reach. The bloodshed comes as Western allies try to shore up stability amid an election process increasingly marred by fraud allegations.
Militant attacks had long been concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the troubled nation, but in recent weeks have spread to the normally quieter northern and western regions, with Saturday a case in point.
Two American troops on patrol died in eastern Afghanistan when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, according to a NATO statement. Three more Americans were killed in an attack in western Afghanistan, a military spokesman said.
No immediate details were given on the branch of service to which the victims belonged.
In the deadliest attacks, a roadside bomb in the southern province of Oruzgan hit two vehicles, killing 14 civilians, the Interior Ministry said. In the northern province of Kunduz, seven policemen died in an attack on their post, with two more missing and feared captured by militants.
On other fronts, six civilians died in a roadside bombing in the southern province of Kandahar; a guard and a child were killed when two suicide bombers attacked a detention center; and four policemen were killed in an attack on a patrol in the eastern province of Nangarhar. Six guards with a security firm were killed when fighters attacked their office in nearby Kunar province.
Seven Afghan soldiers in the western province of Farah were killed after a lengthy battle with Taliban militants, and three civilians died when a rocket struck their home, according to news reports.
On the political front, battling continued amid fraud allegations over the Aug. 20 elections.
At a news conference Saturday, election officials said 92.8% of the votes had been counted -- only a few thousand more over several days -- giving President Hamid Karzai a lead of 54.3% against 28.1% for his chief rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
The Independent Election Commission and a United Nations-backed watchdog continue to disagree on what constitutes an irregularity.
The two bodies are expected to meet Monday to try to find a common definition.