KABUL — Seven members of the U.S.-led NATO force were killed in Afghanistan Thursday, including five U.S. troops killed by a roadside bomb, officials said, bringing the August toll for the coalition to at least 52, an unusually deadly month.
NATO did not specify the location of the blast that killed the U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan.
Later a French soldier was killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Kapisa province in the east, the Associated Press reported citing a French defense ministry statement. Four other French soldiers were wounded in the attack. One NATO service member was killed in an insurgent attack in the south, the coalition said. The service member’s nationality was not revealed.
On Wednesday, another NATO soldier was killed by an explosion in the south. Roadside bombs are the weapon of choice for Taliban insurgents in their campaign against foreign and Afghan forces.
Afghan officials contacted in various southern provinces were unaware of the Thursday incident that killed U.S. troops, which occurred five days after 30 U.S. troops, one of their interpreters and seven Afghan commandos were killed when insurgents shot down their Chinook helicopter.
Some of the 30 U.S. troops who perished in the helicopter downing were members of the same elite Navy SEAL unit that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Late on Wednesday, NATO said the coalition had killed the Taliban militants responsible for the helicopter attack. After an “exhaustive manhunt,” U.S. Special Operations troops found Mullah Mohibullah, a Taliban commander, and the man thought to have shot down the helicopter, in a wooded area of Wardak province as they were attempting to flee to Pakistan, according to a coalition statement. The Special Operations troops called in an airstrike, which killed the two men.
The toll from the helicopter crash was the deadliest in a single incident for the NATO coalition and the U.S. military since the ouster of the Taliban government in 2001. The highest monthly death toll during the conflict came in June, when 103 NATO troops were killed, according to the Web site icasualties.org, which tracks military fatalities.
Despite a surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan since 2010, insurgent violence has persisted, and the Taliban has waged a campaign to assassinate top Afghan government officials.
Salahuddin is a special correspondent.