Deadliest month as eight more US troops die

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The Independent Online

Eight American troops were killed in multiple bomb attacks today in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month of the war for US forces since it began in 2001.

The eight deaths occurred during "multiple, complex" bomb strikes that also killed one Afghan civilian, the US military said in a statement.

Several troops were wounded and evacuated to a nearby medical facility, the military said. No other details were immediately available.

The deaths bring to 55 the total number of American troops killed in October in Afghanistan. The previous high occurred in August, when 51 US soldiers died and the troubled nation held the first round of its presidential elections amid a wave of Taliban insurgent attacks.

The deadliest month of the Iraq conflict for US forces was November 2004, when 137 Americans were killed during the assault to clear insurgents from the city of Fallujah.

"A loss like this is extremely difficult for the families as well as for those who served alongside these brave service members," said Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, a military spokeswoman. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends who mourn their loss."

The loss of life followed one of the worst days of the war for US forces in Afghanistan since they launched air strikes in 2001 to oust the Taliban from power.

On Monday, a US military helicopter crashed returning from the scene of a firefight with suspected Taliban drug traffickers in western Afghanistan, killing 10 Americans including three DEA agents. In a separate crash the same day, four more US troops were killed when two helicopters collided over southern Afghanistan.

US military officials insisted neither crash was the result of hostile fire, although the Taliban claimed they shot down a US helicopter in the western province of Badghis. The US did not say where in western Afghanistan its helicopter went down, and no other aircraft were reported missing.

Those casualties marked the Drug Enforcement Administration's first deaths since it began operations here in 2005. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium - the raw ingredient in heroin - and the illicit drug trade is a major source of funding for insurgent groups.

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