KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Seven U.S. troops have died in weekend attacks in Afghanistan’s embattled southern and eastern regions, while officials found the bodies Sunday of five kidnapped campaign aides working for a female candidate in the western province of Herat.
Two servicemen died in bombings Sunday in southern Afghanistan, while two others were killed in a bomb attack in the south on Saturday and three in fighting in the east the same day, NATO said. Their identities and other details were being withheld until relatives could be notified.
The latest deaths bring to 42 the number of American forces who have died this month in Afghanistan after July’s high of 66. A total of 62 international forces have died in the country this month, including seven British troops.
Fighting is intensifying with the addition of 30,000 U.S. troops to bring the total number of international forces in Afghanistan to 120,000 – 100,000 of them American. Most of those new troops have been assigned to the southern insurgent strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces where major battles are fought almost daily as part of a gathering drive to push out the Taliban.
The five campaign workers had been snatched Wednesday by armed men who stopped their two-vehicle convoy as it was driving through remote countryside. Five others traveling in the vehicles had earlier been set free, according to a man who answered the phone at the home of candidate Fawzya Galani and declined to give his name.
Residents of Herat’s Adraskan district reported finding the bodies early Sunday. They were later transported to the local morgue for identification by family members, district chief Nasar Ahmad Popul said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the killings, although Taliban insurgents have waged a bloody campaign of murder and intimidation against candidates and election workers in hopes of sabotaging the Sept. 18 parliamentary polls the 249 seats in the lower house.
In a similar attack in Herat, male parliamentary candidate Abdul Manan was shot and killed on Saturday on his way to a mosque by an assassin traveling on the back of a motorcycle.
Meanwhile on Sunday, two suicide bombers attempted to climb over the back wall of a compound housing the governor of the far western province of Farah, but were spotted by guards and shot, provincial police Chief Mohammad Faqir Askir said.
The men’s vests exploded, although it wasn’t clear if they detonated them themselves or if it was because they were hit by bullets, Askir said.
The explosions blasted a chunk out of the wall and blew out windows in the compound, but there were no other reports of deaths or injuries, he said.
NATO said eight insurgents were killed in joint Afghan-NATO operations Saturday night in the province of Paktiya, including a Taliban commander, Naman, accused of coordinating roadside bomb attack.