A roadside bomb attack killed four U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the latest deaths in a particularly bloody spell that has left 18 service members dead since Saturday.
No other details were given about the incident and the service members were not identified by name as is standard procedure.
The deaths bring this month’s total to 53, still below the figure of 66 for July, the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion. Another member of the international coalition whose nationality has not been released was killed on Monday.
Almost all of the recent coalition deaths have come in southern and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is most deeply entrenched and where fighting has been heaviest.
Those areas are also closest to the mountainous border with Pakistan, where insurgents maintain safe havens and training bases to instruct recruits, including foreign fighters, who are later infiltrated into Afghanistan.
NATO commanders have warned casualties will mount as coalition and Afghan forces enter areas under long-time Taliban control, particularly in the hard—line Islamic movement’s spiritual heartland of Kandahar province. The NATO force swelled this month to more than 140,000, including 100,000 Americans, with the arrival of the last of the reinforcements that President Barack Obama ordered to Afghanistan in a bid to turn the tide of the nearly nine—year war.
Also on Tuesday, the coalition said it killed two insurgents and wounded a third in an airstrike on Monday on a Taliban commander in charge of logistics in Kandahar, including the coordination of homemade bomb attacks.
A number of Taliban and allied Haqqani Network commanders were also detained in operations on Monday, including one recently returned from teaching bomb—making techniques in Pakistan, NATO said.
In Zabul province bordering Kandahar, insurgents on Monday night ambushed a convoy carrying food and other supplies, killing two private security guards and wounding five others, provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar said.