Eight troops die in a day in Afghanistan: Military

A total of 256 international troops have now died in Afghanistan this year.

Kabul: Eight foreign soldiers died in one day in Afghanistan, officials said Sunday, including four in a single incident believed to have been a vehicle accident.

The four died Saturday of "non-battle related injuries" in southern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

That incident, in a region containing many of Afghanistan`s bloodiest battlegrounds, came on a day when ISAF said four other foreign soldiers also died in separate insurgent attacks -- three in the south and one in the east.

In line with policy, ISAF did not give further details of what happened in any of the incidents, or the nationalities of the troops who died.

There are 130,000 international forces in Afghanistan, of which 90,000 are from the United States.

A total of 256 international troops have now died in Afghanistan this year, according to an AFP tally based on that kept by the independent iCasualties.org website. The total for the whole of 2010 was 711.

Separately, three Afghan civilians were killed Sunday and 11 wounded when a suicide car bomber targeted a passing foreign forces convoy in the northern city of Kunduz, the Afghan interior ministry said.

It added that there were no foreign force casualties.

Germany has a significant force presence in Kunduz, part of the northern region which has seen escalating violence in recent months.

Two German soldiers were killed last month in an attack which killed the regional police chief.

The commander of NATO forces for northern Afghanistan, German General Markus Kneip, survived the attack with slight injuries.

Southern Afghanistan, where most of Saturday`s deaths happened, is where much of the fiercest fighting in the near decade-long war takes place and is the focus of coalition military efforts, particularly the restive provinces of Helmand and Kandahar.

Foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, with limited drawdowns expected to start next month from more peaceful parts of the country.

US President Barack Obama is due to make a closely-watched announcement soon on the number of US troops, which make up the bulk of the ISAF force, who will leave in July.=
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the US was holding talks with the Taliban, the first official confirmation of such contacts after nearly 10 years of war. The US State Department declined to comment.

The war followed a US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, over the Taliban`s harbouring of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in Pakistan in May.

Bureau Report

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