KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Militants killed six Americans, including a young female diplomat, and an Afghan doctor in a pair of attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday. It was the deadliest day for the United States in the war in eight months.
The violence llustrates the instability plaguing the nation as foreign forces work to withdraw nearly all their combat troops by the end of 2014.
The attacks came hours after General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Afghanistan to take stock of the war.
Just days earlier, insurgents stormed a courthouse, killing more than 46 people in one of the deadliest attacks of the war, now in its 12th year.
The three US service members, two US civilians, and the doctor were killed when the group was struck by an explosion while traveling to donate books to students in a school in the southern province of Zabul, officials and the State Department said. They were not immediately identified.
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Americans included a Department of Defense civilian and the foreign service officer.
‘‘She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future,’’ Kerry said. ‘‘We also honor the US troops and Department of Defense civilian who lost their lives, and the Afghan civilians who were killed today as they worked to improve the nation they love.’’
Officials said the explosion occurred just as a coalition convoy drove past a caravan of vehicles carrying the governor of Zabul Province to the same event.
Another American civilian was killed in a separate insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the US military said.
It was the deadliest day for Americans since Aug. 16, when seven American service members were killed in two attacks in Kandahar province. Six were killed when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents and one soldier died in a roadside explosion.