25 killed in Afghan bus bombing

A packed bus hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan today, killing 25 people aboard, as Nato announced another US death in a rapidly rising monthly death toll.

The passenger bus was travelling in Nimroz province on a main highway toward the capital Kabul, when it struck the explosive around 7am local time, said Nazir Ahmad, a provincial government spokesman. Another 20 people were wounded, he said.

The explosion occurred around Delaram – a volatile area near the borders of Helmand and Farah provinces.

Meanwhile, Nato said a US service member was killed in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, without giving further details.

July is already one of the deadliest months for US troops in the nearly nine-year Afghan war, with 59 service members killed so far. That’s just short of the 60 that died in June – currently the deadliest month for US forces.

US forces have pushed into southern Taliban strongholds in recent weeks in an attempt to squeeze insurgents out of the area where they have long functioned as a de facto government. Along with the surge, attacks on military forces and Afghan supporters of the government have increased. Many civilians have been killed or injured in incidents like Wednesday’s bus bomb or caught up in the crossfire.

Nato is also receiving heavy casualties overall. Altogether, 80 Nato troops have died in July. In June, 103 Nato forces were killed.

The rising death toll comes as US forces continue the search for a missing Navy sailor who was captured last week by Taliban forces when he and a colleague drove into an insurgent-held area of eastern Afghanistan. One of the sailors was killed in a firefight with militants and the Taliban has said they captured the other.

The sailors were instructors at a counter-insurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where the body of the sailor was recovered, the officials said.

Nato officials were unable to say what the two service members were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

In central Uruzgan province, meanwhile, three Afghan soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb today, said Gulab Khan, deputy provincial police chief.

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