(And the president wants to "wait" and show "patience" before making a decision on Afghanistan, jeezus H.)
Afghanistan: Multiple bombings kill eight U.S. troops in Afghanistan -- latimes.com
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan
Eight U.S. troops were killed today in two bombings in southern Afghanistan, the military said, making October the deadliest month for Americans of the eight-year war.
The attacks, which came a day after 14 Americans died in two helicopter crashes, bring the total number of U.S. service members killed during the month to at least 53, according to the independent website icasualties.org.
With less than two weeks remaining before Afghans go to the polls again for a presidential runoff election, U.S. officials had warned that an increase in insurgent attacks was likely.
"They are trying to influence the people of Afghanistan to prevent them from voting," said Col. Wayne Shanks, spokesman for U.S. forces in the country.
There was also a spike in attacks leading up to the first round of voting two months ago; 45 U.S. troops were killed in July and 51 in August, previously the deadliest months for Americans of the military campaign.
The Aug. 20 election was marred by reports of widespread fraud, which cost President Hamid Karzai nearly 1 million votes and left him just short of the required 50% for an outright win. A second round of voting is scheduled for Nov. 7, when Karzai will face his primary challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
The Taliban insurgency claimed responsibility for today's attacks.
"We don't accept these two candidates," Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said in a telephone interview. "This election is against Islam and against us."
He said the attacks took place in Zabol province. Shanks did not identify the area pending notification of next of kin, but other military officials put them in neighboring Kandahar province.
Seven of the Americans were killed in a single incident along with an Afghan civilian working with them, Shanks said. The roadside bombing targeted a U.S. armored vehicle patrol and was followed by a firefight in which an unspecified number of insurgents were killed, he said.
The eighth American was killed in another roadside bombing, Shanks said.
Several wounded troops were evacuated for treatment after the attacks.
The increase in casualties could complicate a decision by President Obama on the way forward in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has reportedly requested up to 40,000 additional troops to pursue insurgents in Taliban strongholds, protect civilians and promote development to build support for the government.
Critics of a troop buildup have suggested a variety of more limited strategies that would focus on pursuing members of the Al Qaeda network without putting as many U.S. troops in harm's way.
There are currently about 68,000 American troops in the country, along with 38,000 from 42 countries serving with the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF.
"The last couple of days have been a very tough couple of days for everybody involved," Shanks said. But "I think you will see, as we work to make this a safer place, the attacks will come down here."
Already, he said, U.S. forces are finding close to two-thirds of the roadside bombs - commonly referred to as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs -- before the explosives detonate.
"As people come to trust us more, they will tell us about where these IEDS are hidden," he said.
Military officials have said that the helicopter crashes on Monday did not appear to have been insurgent-related. Two choppers collided in midair in the south, and Shanks said there was no indication of hostile fire when a third one went down following a joint U.S.-Afghan anti-narcotics operation in the west. The crashes took the lives of 14 Americans: 11 troops and three law enforcement officials.
Today, North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces recovered the remains of three American military contractors from the wreckage of a plane that crashed two weeks ago in the rugged mountains of northeastern Afghanistan.
The crew was flying an Army C-12 Huron transport plane when they disappeared after a routine mission from Bagram Airfield, the military said in a release. The cause of the crash is not believed to be hostile fire, although the incident is still under investigation, the release said.
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