BBC NEWS | 2010/01/04 | 08:00:28 GMT
Four US soldiers have been killed in a roadside explosion in southern Afghanistan, Nato-led forces said. The soldiers died after an improvised explosive device went off on Sunday, a statement by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said. Also, on Sunday, a British soldier was killed in a separate blast in Helmand province, officials said. Violence in Afghanistan has reached its highest level since the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001. News agency AFP quoted an unnamed Afghan police official as saying that the attack took place in Panjwayi district in Kandahar province. “We claim responsibility for this attack,” the agency quoted Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi as saying. He called from an unknown location and gave the same location of the strike as the police official, the agency reported.
The deaths are the first US fatalities attributed to hostile action in Afghanistan this year. US President Barack Obama announced last month he would send 30,000 new US troops to Afghanistan, with a view to defeating the Taliban. NATO countries have followed by pledging another 7,000 troops so far. In response, the Taliban said they would step up their fight in Afghanistan. A Taliban commander told the BBC that if more US troops came, more would die. More than 900 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.