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4 U.S. troops, 1 Afghan killed

KABUL – A roadside bomb killed four U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, inflicting the year’s deadliest single attack on international forces a week after Washington set plans to send reinforcements. An Afghan civilian working with the Americans also died.

The Americans were patrolling with Afghan soldiers when their vehicle struck a bomb Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. military said in a statement. The military withheld identities of the dead and the attack’s location pending notification of relatives.

The previous deadliest attack on U.S. troops this year was an explosion in Zabul province in January that killed three Americans.

Taliban militants have increased attacks the last three years and now hold sway in large areas of countryside, leading the Obama administration to promise an intensified focus on defeating Islamic extremists in this region.

President Barack Obama announced Feb. 17 that he had decided to send 17,000 more soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan, adding to the record 38,000 already fighting a strengthening insurgency.

Obama’s order would put several thousand troops in place in time for the increase in fighting that usually occurs with warmer weather and ahead of Afghan national elections scheduled for August.

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