Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Deadly day for American troops

Seven soldiers killed in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Seven U.S. service members were killed Saturday in one of the deadliest days for Americans in Afghanistan in recent months, as the Taliban continued attacks against foreign troops as part of their spring offensive.

The renewed violence came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged at a news conference that regular payments his government has received from the CIA for more than a decade would continue. Karzai also said that talks on a U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement to govern future American military presence in the country had been delayed because of conditions the Afghans were placing on the deal.

The U.S.-led coalition reported that five international troops were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, and coalition spokesman Capt. Luca Carniel confirmed all five were American.

The coalition did not disclose the location of the roadside bombing. However, Javeed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, said the coalition patrol hit the bomb in the Maiwand district of the province, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.

Later, the coalition reported a soldier with the Afghan National Army turned his weapon on coalition troops in the west, killing two in the most recent of so-called insider attacks. Such attacks by members of the Afghan security forces against their fellow colleagues or international troops have eroded confidence in the Afghan forces as they work to take over from foreign forces.

Both killed were American, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the nationalities ahead of an official announcement.

It was the fourth time since last summer that seven Americans have been killed on a single day in the war.

On March 12, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside Kandahar, killing five U.S. troops. Two more U.S. troops were killed that day by an insider attack.

And on April 6, Afghan militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor in a pair of attacks in southern Afghanistan. The three U.S. service members, two U.S. civilians and the doctor were killed when the group was struck by an explosion while travelling to donate books to a school. A seventh American, a civilian, was killed in a separate insurgent attack in the east.

On Aug. 16, 2012, seven American service members were killed in two attacks in Kandahar province. Six were killed when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents and one soldier died in a roadside bomb explosion.

At the news conference, Karzai said he had met earlier in the day with the Kabul station chief of the CIA and was reassured the agency's payments to the Afghan government would continue. The New York Times had reported that for more than a decade, the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags.

Karzai said he told the station chief: " 'Because of all these rumours in the media, please do not cut all this money because we really need it. We want to continue this sort of assistance.' And he promised that they are not going to cut this money."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 5, 2013 A4

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