Toll Continues to Rise After Deadly July
By Joshua Partlow, washingtonpost.com, August 2, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 1 -- After the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, three American soldiers were killed Saturday in a bombing in a southern province, and a French soldier died in a separate attack north of Kabul.
The U.S. servicemen were killed when two roadside bombs exploded while they were on patrol in Kandahar province, the military said in a statement. The increased use of such powerful bombs by Taliban insurgents has been a major factor in the U.S. military's rising death toll, which reached 43 in July, the highest level since the war began in late 2001.
A U.S. military spokeswoman in Afghanistan said no other details about the blasts would be available until the families of those killed had been notified.
"Their sacrifices, although very difficult to accept, were not made in vain," Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, a military spokesman, said in a statement.
In a separate incident in a valley north of the capital, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded during sustained fighting with insurgents. The soldiers came under attack by the Taliban while patrolling with Afghan soldiers, the French military said, according to news services.
The killing raised France's death toll in Afghanistan to 29 soldiers, and President Nicolas Sarkozy's office issued a statement that reiterated "France's determination to fight, alongside the Afghan people," against terrorism.
U.S. casualties have risen since President Obama ordered tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan to stage an offensive against the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. Military analysts have predicted more violence as the soldiers push into areas long held by the Taliban. The insurgents have fought back with a range of weapons, including mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, in addition to the bombs planted for passing convoys.
Some observers say violence could spike before this month's presidential election, a test for Afghanistan's fragile democracy. With five months to go in the year, 2009 is already the second-deadliest year for Americans in the Afghan war: So far, 133 Americans have died, compared with 155 in all of 2008, according to the Web site icasualties.org, which tracks military deaths.