KABUL – A roadside bomb killed four American troops in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, driving the July death toll for U.S. forces to the highest monthly level of the war.
The latest deaths brought to at least 30 the number of American service members who have died in Afghanistan this month – two more than the figure for all of June 2008, which had been the deadliest month for the U.S. since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion drove the Taliban from power.
July’s death toll for the entire U.S.-led coalition, which includes American, British, Canadian and other forces, stands at 55 – well over the previous record of 46 deaths suffered in June and August of 2008.
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Monday that terrorism would spread through the world if NATO forces fail in Afghanistan.
“Al-Qaida would have a free run again, and their terrorist ambitions are global,” he said in a speech at London’s Chatham House think tank. “Those who argue otherwise – who say we can defend against terrorism from home – are simply burying their heads in the sand.”
With more troops in the country, American and British forces have been striking deeper into Taliban strongholds in the south, hoping to establish enough security for Afghans to choose a president next month and cut insurgent supply lines into Pakistan.
U.S. troops have also stepped up efforts in eastern Afghanistan to curb the movement of militants to and from safe havens in Pakistan’s lawless tribal region.
A NATO statement said the four soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device in the east of the country but gave no further details.
Also Monday, the British Ministry of Defense announced that a British soldier was killed the day before by a roadside bomb during a foot patrol in Helmand province.
Also Monday, officials reported that at least a dozen Afghan civilians had been killed in violent incidents.
In the northern province of Kunduz on Sunday, German soldiers fired on a pickup truck approaching at high speed and suspected of carrying Taliban fighters. Provincial Gov. Mohammad Omar said three civilians were killed, but German authorities said one died.
In the western province of Farah, a van full of civilians struck a roadside bomb Sunday, killing 11 people on board, including a child and his mother, the deputy governor said.