Two U.S. soldiers were killed and four were wounded when their NATO convoy was attacked in Afghanistan’s troubled Kandahar province Wednesday, U.S. and NATO military officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis gave no details. But the Taliban claims one of its suicide bombers drove an explosives-packed vehicle into the convoy.
It says 15 soldiers belonging to “foreign occupation forces,” including two “high-ranking” officers were killed. The Taliban routinely exaggerates casualty figures when making such claims.
NATO’s military mission the four wounded soldiers were receiving treatment at a coalition medical facility and that their wounds are not considered life threatening.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Resolute Support Mission, I offer our deepest condolences to the families of our fallen comrades,” said General John Nicholson, commander, Resolute Support Mission. “These soldiers gave their lives in service of a mission that is critically important to the United States, our allies and partners. We will honor their sacrifice with our dedication to protect our homeland and complete the mission for which they sacrificed.”
A provincial government statement said the convoy was carrying foreign troops to the airport through Kandahar city when a suicide car bomber struck. It said the blast damaged one of the vehicles, but would not discuss further details.
Kandahar is known as the birthplace of the Taliban, whose resurgence has led U.S. President Donald Trump to consider sending more American forces back into Afghanistan.
There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops in the country, joining NATO forces as trainers and advisers to Afghan forces.
Kandahar hosts a major American military base and shares the border with Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials said Wednesday the death toll in the overnight suicide attack on a Shi'ite mosque in the western city of Herat has risen to at least 31, including two children. More than 60 people were wounded.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Eyewitnesses said two armed suicide bombers entered the mosque during Tuesday evening prayer time and opened fire on several hundred worshippers in the main hail before blowing themselves up.
The head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has condemned the attack, saying deliberately targeting civilians at prayer can have no justification whatsoever.
"Fanning terror and sectarian violence against a specific community is abhorrent, and those responsible must be brought to account," said Tadamichi Yamamoto in a statement issued in Kabul.
UNAMA says it has documented at least five attacks this year targeting Shi'ite mosques and religious gatherings in Afghanistan.
IS has taken credit for plotting three of those attacks.