KABUL // Five American troops died today in bombings in southern Afghanistan where international forces are stepping up the fight against the Taliban, officials said. Four of the victims died in a single blast, Nato said in a statement. A fifth service member was killed in a separate attack in the south, Nato said. US officials confirmed all five were Americans. The latest deaths bring to 75 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month, including 56 Americans.
The US-led force is ramping up operations against the Taliban in their southern strongholds, hoping to enable the Afghan government to expand its control in the volatile region. Rising casualty tolls, however, are eroding support for the war even as president Barack Obama sends thousands of reinforcements to try to turn back the Taliban. On Tuesday, an international conference in Kabul endorsed President Hamid Karzai's plan for Afghan security forces to assume responsibility for protecting the country by the end of 2014. Mr Obama has pledged to begin removing US troops starting in July 2011, although he has linked the drawdown to security conditions on the ground.