Nightly News   |  April 07, 2013

Violence in Afghanistan claims American diplomats

As the weather gets warmer in Afghanistan, insurgent attacks are expected to intensify. And if this weekend is any indication, the fighting season ahead could be a challenging one. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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>>> u.s. diplomatic core are mourn rg the loss of one of their own in afghanistan at the end of an especially deadly weekend there. among the six americans killed yesterday in a pair of attacks was a young woman described tonight as selfless and idealistic by secretary of state john kerry . yesterday was the deadliest day for the u.s. in afghanistan since last summer, and it was followed today by the deaths of nearly a dozen afghan civilians in a nato air strike . nbc's ron mott is following developments for us tonight from kabul . ron ?

>> reporter: lester, good evening. as temperatures get warmer here in afghanistan , insurgent attacks are expected to pick up both in frequency and in intensity as this weekend's deadly violence serves as any indication, the upcoming fighting season could be quite challenging. in a convoy to deliver books to an afghan school, 25-year-old american diplomat ann smedenhoff became the first such official slain overseas since last year's attack on the u.s. cons late in benghazi, libya in which ambassador chris stevens and three others were killed. today in turkey secretary of state john kerry called the loss a grim reminder of the dangers facing those in non-combat roles.

>> a brave american was determined to brighten the light of learning through books, written in the native tongue of the students that she'd never met, but whom she felt compelled to help. these are the challenges that our citizens face, not just in afghanistan but in many dangerous parts of the world.

>> reporter: the attack in zabul was the single deadliest since july. three service members, two civilians and the unannounced visit to the battlefield of general martin dempsey . in an interview sunday with the associated press, dempsey says he's cautious about the upcoming transfer of security responsibilities to afghan forces, though expressed optimism they will ultimately prove successful.

>> the good news is that even though the taliban has some toughness and some resilience and some success in these missions, the afghan forces are not folding. they're holding up.

>> reporter: tensions between washington and kabul have increased which secretary kerry appeared to have smood somewhat during his recent meeting with president hamid karzai . still, another 1 afghan civilians, including ten children, died today in a nato attack in a province bordering pakistan, perhaps reinforcing complaints that the collateral damage in afghanistan has grown too costly. meantime in the chicago suburb where ann smedenhoff was raised, ribbons were tied to trees in an none are a young woman who impressed so many with her dedication to others. as friends like nbc's atia abow wi who worked with her in afghanistan reflected on a young life full of meaningful contributions.

>> ann was making a difference in the country and the afghan people really respected her, the ones that she touched, the ones that knew her.

>> reporter: ann 's parents released a statement saying they are consoled knowing that she died doing a job she loved and that she was serving her country by trying to make a difference in the world.

>> ron mott in kabul tonight, thank you.