Militants kill three NATO soldiers in Afghanistan
NEW DELHI – Three NATO soldiers were killed Sunday in an attack by militants in eastern Afghanistan, the international coalition said.
The soldiers, whose nationalities were not immediately available in line with policy, were killed in eastern Paktia province bordering Pakistan, the alliance said in a statement, blaming “enemies of Afghanistan.”
The violence came amid reports that at least 22 Afghans were killed by flooding near Kabul, the nation’s capital.
The area bordering northwestern Pakistan where the soldiers were slain -- lawless, mountainous terrain that allows insurgents to move easily across the unmarked border -- has seen some of the most intense fighting of the 12-year war. It was also one of the last holdouts of organized Taliban resistance when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and toppled the government led by the Islamic movement in late 2001.
The three soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were reportedly the first to be killed in August. Most foreign troops in Paktia province are training Afghan troops and not involved in front-line combat operations after the alliance handed most security responsibility over to the Afghan National Army this year.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization reportedly has about 87,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, including some 60,000 Americans, down from 98,000 in June. The numbers are expected to continue dropping sharply through the end of 2014 when the last combat troops are set to depart under a phased draw-down.
Sunday’s deaths bring to 114 the number of fatalities among foreign troops in 2013, compared with 402 for all of 2012, according to icasualties.org, an independent website.
Heavy rains and overnight hailstorms, meanwhile, killed at least 22 people near Kabul, a disaster management official told the Associated Press.
Mohammad Daim Kakar, who coordinates disaster management for Kabul province, said the rains began late Saturday and continued into Sunday morning.
They caused floods that killed at least 20 people in Kabul’s Chakardara district just north of the capital, he said, adding that the victims included seven children.
Kakar said another two children died in a flood in the Paghman district west of the capital.
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