KABUL — Bombs and bullets killed seven American troops on Monday, the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in nearly a year, and a sign that the war being fought in the Taliban heartland of the south and east could now be expanding north.
Four of the deaths Monday came in an attack on a team of U.S. military trainers in the relatively peaceful north, bringing into focus the question of whether the U.S. is committing enough troops to secure the country.
President Barack Obama has ordered 21,000 additional American troops to this country, mainly in the south where Taliban militants have made a violent comeback after a U.S.-led coalition toppled them from power in late 2001. The U.S. expects 68,000 troops here by year's end, double last year's total but still half as many as now in Iraq.
On a visit to Moscow, Obama said Monday that it's too soon to measure the success of his new strategy in Afghanistan. He said the U.S. can take another look at the situation after the country's presidential elections on Aug. 20.
The four American soldiers killed in the north died in a roadside bombing of their vehicle in Kunduz province, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, a U.S. military spokesman. The soldiers were training Afghan forces, he said.
Two Americans were killed in a roadside blast in southern Afghanistan, Naranjo said. And another American soldier died of wounds in a Monday firefight with militants in the east, a U.S. military spokesman said.
It was the deadliest day for American troops in Afghanistan since July 13, 2008, when 10 soldiers were killed.
In southern Afghanistan, meanwhile, thousands of U.S. Marines continued with their anti-Taliban offensive in Helmand province.
Some 500 Marines out of 4,000 participating in the operation moved into the Khan Neshin area, a Marine statement said Monday.
"This is the first time coalition forces have had a sustained presence so far south in the Helmand River valley. Khan Neshin had been a Taliban stronghold for several years before Afghan, and coalition forces arrived and began discussions with local leaders several days ago," the statement added.