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Afghanistan blast kills 3 coalition soldiers

Three more foreign soldiers serving in Afghanistan have been killed in an attack by Islamic militants, raising the number who have died so far this year to at least 114.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Three more foreign soldiers serving in Afghanistan were killed Thursday in an attack by Islamic militants, raising the number who have died so far this year to at least 114.

The latest casualties came when a U.S.-led coalition convoy was patrolling south of the Afghan capital on Thursday.

"Severe blast and fire damage" destroyed one vehicle in the convoy as it passed through Saydabad, a district of Wardak province, a coalition statement said.

An Afghan interpreter also died in the attack. The nationality of the soldiers was not released.

A freelance television cameraman filmed what he said was the aftermath of the Thursday attack, about 40 miles from Kabul. The footage showed the burning wreckage of a vehicle on a bend in a mountain road. Militants held up what looked like an M-16 rifle and dragged away a belt of ammunition.

It was not possible to independently verify whether the footage was from the same incident reported by the coalition. The cameraman's name was withheld for his own security.

Fighting between Taliban-led insurgents and security forces continues unabated, despite a nearly seven-year international effort to stabilize the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

More than 2,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally, including at least 114 foreign soldiers. The comparable total for Iraq is 211.

Truck convoy torched
Foreign troops have established a base and increased their patrols in Wardak in response to an increase in militant activity in an area which could provide a launch pad for strikes against the capital. Suspected militants torched a convoy of some 40 trucks on the main Kabul-Kandahar highway in Saydabad district on Tuesday.

However, much of the fighting has taken place in the eastern and southern provinces bordering Pakistan, and Afghan leaders accuse Pakistan of secretly supporting the insurgents and harboring their leaders — a charge Pakistan civilian and military leaders deny.

In the latest and most serious allegation, an Afghan official on Wednesday blamed Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency for an attempt to assassinate Karzai during a military parade in April.

Saeed Ansari, spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, said the confessions and cell phone records of detained suspects and other unspecified evidence proved the ISI was the "main organizer" of the assassination attempt.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on Thursday rejected the allegation as "baseless and irresponsible."