KABUL, Afghanistan, March 26 -- Four U.S. soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck a land mine in central Afghanistan on Saturday, the military said. It was unclear whether the mine was freshly laid or a leftover from the country's long wars.
The soldiers were among a group of U.S. and Afghan officials examining a potential site for a shooting range in Logar province, 25 miles south of Kabul, when one of the three vehicles hit the mine, spokeswoman Lt. Cindy Moore said.
The bodies of the four, none of whom was identified, were airlifted to the main U.S. base at Bagram, Moore said. No one else was reported hurt.
Moore said investigators suspected the mine was an old charge dislodged by recent rain and snow or that the vehicle had wandered into an unmapped minefield. "We believe it was an old mine which could have shifted," she said.
Gov. Mohammed Aman Hamini said the incident occurred in a desert area crisscrossed by rough tracks.
"It's an old mine. There's no traffic on the route they took, but the Russians used to use it because they were afraid of the main road," Hamini said, referring to the Soviet troops that occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s.
However, Mullah Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said its fighters detonated the mine by remote control. "We've said again and again that we would resume our holy war in the spring," Latifi said from an undisclosed location.