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Eight coalition soldiers die in Afghanistan in single day

KABUL — Eight soldiers with the US-led military coalition, including seven Americans, were killed Saturday, making it the bloodiest day this year for Western troops fighting here.

Two were shot in an insider attack, one died in a small-arms attack, and five Americans were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb, according to statements from the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan officials.

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The explosion that killed the five US soldiers occurred in the Maiwand district in western Kandahar Province, said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar.

The soldiers were driving toward villages from central Maiwand when the attack occurred, he said.

Captain Dan Einert, a spokes­man for the international coalition, confirmed that the five soldiers were Americans.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the insider attack in Farah Province in western Afghanistan, where an Afghan National Army soldier turned his weapon on his trainers after a quarrel, said Lieutenant Colonel Hajji Dil Jan, the deputy police chief of Farah Province. Both killed were American, the Associated Press reported, citing US officials.

A Taliban spokesman said in an e-mail that the gunman was from Farah Province.

Most of the troops in Farah are Americans. Jan said the gunman, known as Quadratullah, was killed by US soldiers.

Insider attacks rose sharply in 2012, with 64 deaths in 48 attacks, more than in any previous year, Einert said. The military has taken extensive measures to prevent them, and so far this year there have been just four episodes.

But with the Taliban’s spring offensive now underway, military officials say they are expecting the militants to increase the use of the tactic.

The eighth casualty occurred in an attack in northern Afghanistan, Einert said. Details were not available.

It was the fourth time since last summer that seven Americans have been killed on a single day in the war.

On March 12, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside Kandahar, killing five US troops. Two more US troops were killed that day by an insider attack. And April 6, Afghan militants killed six Americans in a pair of attacks in southern Afghanistan and one US civilian in the east. On Aug. 16, 2012, seven Americans were killed in two attacks in Kandahar Province.

In a separate development Saturday, search teams found the bodies of two American crew members near where their military refueling plane crashed in the rugged mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Associated Press reported.

The third crew member was still missing, the emergencies minister of the Central Asian nation said.

The KC-135 plane crashed Friday afternoon about 100 miles west of the air base that the United States operates in Kyrgyzstan to support military operations in Afghanistan.

Officials at the US Transit Center at the Manas base have released no report yet on the cause of the crash and could not be reached Saturday for more information.

The renewed violence in Afghanistan came as President Hamid Karzai acknowledged at a news conference that regular payments his government has received from the CIA for more than a decade would continue.

He also said that talks on a US-Afghan bilateral security pact to govern future US military presence had been delayed because of conditions the Afghans were placing on the deal.

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