In the deadlier of the two attacks Saturday, in Zabul province’s Qalat district, insurgents detonated a bomb when a convoy transporting U.S. troops and State Department officials and another one carrying the governor of the province intersected. The blast, in an area that has long been a Taliban stronghold, killed three U.S. service members, the young diplomat and a U.S. Defense Department employee.
The Associated Press reported that the governor survived the attack but that an Afghan doctor was killed in the explosion.
In a statement, the Taliban said the attack was carried out at noon when a militant detonated explosives packed in a vehicle as the provincial governor was approaching the Americans. A Taliban spokesman told the AP that militants linked to the group were hoping to strike a U.S. or an Afghan government convoy when they placed the bomb. “We were waiting for one of them,” spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said. “It was our good luck that both appeared at the same time.”
In the east, meanwhile, a third American civilian was killed in an “insurgent attack,” according to a statement issued by the military coalition in Kabul. It offered no further details.
Dempsey, the country’s top U.S. military official, told reporters traveling with him that he was heartened by what U.S. officials have described as spontaneous rebellions against the Taliban that have unfolded in recent months as the U.S. presence in the country has thinned. He expressed hope that a political solution will lead at least some segments of the Taliban to join the political process, according to remarks published by the American Forces Press Service, a Pentagon news division.
“Any conflict in history, when it is resolved, is resolved through some form of reconciliation,” Dempsey said. “I support the effort to try . . . through the Afghans to encourage them to take reconciliation as an important line of effort.”
Kerry, who traveled Saturday to the Middle East, spoke to the woman’s parents to offer “what little comfort I can for their immeasurable loss.”
“As the father of two daughters, I can’t imagine what their family is feeling today,” he said.
Tom Smedinghoff said his daughter died in the pursuit of a career she loved.
“The world lost a truly beautiful soul today,” he said. “She was such a wonderful woman--strong, intelligent, independent, and loving.”
Anne Gearan contributed to this report.