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Three coalition troops killed in Afghanistan

May 14, 2013|By David Zucchino and Hashmat Baktash | This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Three international service members were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, according to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The soldiers were Americans, said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province, who put the number of service members killed at four.

ISAF, following standard procedure, declined to provide the nationality of the troops pending notification of next of kin. A spokesman for the force in Kabul, asked about discrepancy in the number of dead, reiterated that three service members were killed "according to current reporting."

Their vehicle was struck by an explosion in the Zhari district of western Kandahar province about 3 p.m., Faisal said. He was not certain whether the vehicle had just entered or just left a fortified coalition base.

Insurgents have a strong presence in the province, the spiritual home of the Taliban. Over the past three years, according to an ISAF commander in Kandahar, 10% of all coalition deaths in Afghanistan have occurred in Zhari and neighboring Panjwai district.

Prior to Tuesday’s attack, the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan this year was 59, including 46 U.S. service members, according to icasualties.org, an independent website that tracks war casualties. The attack in Kandahar came one day after three troops from the nation of Georgia were killed by a suicide bomber in Helmand province, just west of Kandahar.

On May 4, five U.S. soldiers were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Maiwand, a district in Kandahar that adjoins Zhari. The same day, two U.S. soldiers were shot and killed by a gunman in an Afghan army uniform in Farah province in southwestern Afghanistan.

[Updated, 11:42 a.m. May 14: Also Tuesday, the Taliban announced that the Islamic movement had released four more Turkish engineers kidnapped last month when a helicopter in which they were flying was forced by bad weather to make a landing in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.

The Turks were reported released two days after four other Turkish engineers kidnapped from the same flight were set free.

Two pilots -- from Russia and Kyrgyzstan -- and an Afghan translator are still missing and believed held by the insurgents. The Taliban statement, emailed to the news media, gave no further information.]

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