4 US Service Members, British Soldier  Die in Afghan Blasts
4 US Service Members, British Soldier Die in Afghan Blasts

The Taliban said Thursday it was behind bombings that killed eight Americans, including seven CIA officers, inside a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan, as well as four Canadian soldiers and a journalist in the south.

The Taliban said the attack in eastern Khost province Wednesday was carried out by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform, who was able to detonate a suicide vest near the base's gym.  It is not clear how the bomber gained access to the base.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency later confirmed the attack killed seven of its employees and wounded six others, but provided no other details.  The eighth American killed in the attack worked for the State Department.

U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the CIA Thursday.  In a letter to CIA employees, Mr. Obama said seven Americans gave their lives in service to their country.  He praised the agency's excellent work, saying that, because of its service, plots have been disrupted, American lives saved and U.S. allies and partners have been more secure.

The eight Americans were killed the same day a roadside bomb in southern Kandahar province killed four Canadian soldiers and a female Canadian journalist who was traveling with them.

Elsewhere, unknown gunmen kidnapped two French journalists and at least two Afghans traveling with them northeast of Kabul on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Afghan police Thursday said militants in southern Uruzgan province beheaded six Afghans for cooperating with government authorities.  Police said they found the victims' headless bodies near the provincial capital, Tarin Kot.  They also discovered a seventh victim with serious neck injuries.

Separately, the Afghan government is demanding that NATO forces hand over troops involved in a deadly clash in Kunar province Sunday, that killed 10 civilians.

The United Nations said eight of the 10 Afghans killed were students enrolled in local schools.  The statement also said insurgents were in the area at the time.  It urged Afghan and NATO forces to continue investigating.

On Wednesday, Afghan officials claimed another eight civilians were killed by foreign troops near Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province.

Afghan officials, including President Karzai, have been harshly critical of military operations that lead to civilian deaths.  They have called for a halt to air strikes and nighttime house raids.  The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has made protecting civilians the top priority for foreign troops.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.