US troops, Afghan politician killed
Kabul - Seven US soldiers and an Afghan man running for the nation's parliament have been killed in a wave of attacks this weekend in some of Afghanistan's most volatile regions, authorities said on Sunday.
About 15 insurgents were also killed in separate gunfights with Afghan and Nato troops in Paktia, another hostile region the country's east, the military alliance said.
Three US soldiers were killed fighting insurgents in two separate battles in eastern parts of the country on Saturday, the alliance's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement.
It was not known if they died in the same fighting in which the insurgents were killed.
Another two troops lost their lives in an improvised bomb attack in the country's south on the same day, the force said, while two more were killed in separate attacks in the south on Sunday.
A military spokesperson said that "all (the dead) were Americans".
The troops are the latest in an escalating toll of casualties as the alliance fights a Taliban insurgency which had become increasingly deadly since the militants were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
The number of the foreign troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year has now reached 472, compared with 521 who died during the whole of 2009, according to an AFP tally based on a count by www.icasualties.org.
The independent website tracks military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There are about 141 000 US and Nato troops deployed in Afghanistan to fight the insurgency and protect a US-backed government installed in Kabul following the overthrow of Taliban regime.
The hardline Islamist Taliban are trying to regain power through an insurgency they call a "holy war" which has gathered pace mainly in the south in the face of a troop "surge" by international forces.
A local politician running for parliament in election due to be held on September 18 was gunned down by in the western province of Herat on Saturday, an official said.
The finger of blame was pointed at the Taliban who Afghan officials say have been responsible for the deaths of two other parliamentary candidates since the election campaign was launched in early July.