Afghan attacks kill 8 u.s. troops
3 separate assaults strike in a bloody 24 hours for americans
KABUL, Afghanistan — A spate of attacks that included a bombing outside an Afghan police base in the city of Kandahar killed eight U.S. troops and three police officers, NATO officials said Wednesday, reflecting stepped-up resistance by the Taliban to coalition efforts to secure southern Afghanistan.
The most brazen attack was an assault Tuesday night at the headquarters of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, a force that recently came to Kandahar to work with NATO troops to secure the city. About 9 p.m., a car bomb exploded on the base’s perimeter, followed by gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Three U.S. troops were killed, along with five Afghan civilians — including four interpreters — and three police officers, according to NATO and Afghan officials.
NATO officials said the attackers didn’t breach the compound’s perimeter, but the Kandahar provincial police chief, Mohammad Zazai, gave a slightly different account. He said two suicide bombers attacked on foot — the first blasting a wall and the second detonating his explosives inside, causing the casualties.
Four other U.S. service members died in a bombing Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, and a fifth was killed by gunfire. NATO gave no further details of those attacks.
So far in July, 45 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan, including 33 Americans, continuing the upward trend of June, which was the war’s deadliest for the NATO-led force, with 103 international troops killed.
Officials on Wednesday confirmed that the government representative in the troubled southern district of Marjah had been replaced, barely six months after a major NATO military offensive to retake the area from the Taliban.
Provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said Abdul Zahir has been replaced as district chief in a “reform procedure.” He wouldn’t say if Zahir was removed because of continued instability in Marjah. The southern farming town — much like the current Kandahar push — was intended to be a showcase of good Afghan governance after combined Afghan and international forces expelled the Taliban, but officials have struggled to consolidate their control.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ben Hodges said that Zahir was ousted for refusing to take a qualification test required under Afghan law. He said he didn’t have details but suspected the test requirement had been waived when Zahir was first recruited as Marjah’s district chief.
“I’m not sad. I served my country,” Zahir said. “I laid down the foundation for democracy.”