Roadside bomb kills 4 US soldiers in Afghanistan

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ASADABAD, Afghanistan, Mar 12 (Reuters) Four US soldiers were killed today after a blast ripped through their armoured vehicle in Afghanistan, the US military said.

The soldiers were killed during a patrol in the eastern province of Kunar, which lies close to the border with Pakistan, in an attack claimed by Taliban insurgents.

''The extremists that initiated this senseless attack create a significant danger and threat to the Afghan people,'' said Major General Benjamin C. Freakely for the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.

The attack marked the U.S. military's single biggest loss in a day in the country for several months and brought to 10 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year.

A Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Manan, said the attack was carried out through a remote controlled device by Taliban guerrillas who are mostly active in southern and eastern areas of Afghanistan close to the border with Pakistan.

The attack comes amid rising violence by ousted Islamic Taliban militants who have recently stepped up their attacks against foreign forces based in Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai's government.

US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001 after its leaders refused to hand over al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

More than 70 foreign troops, most of them Americans, have been killed in Taliban-linked violence in Afghanistan in the past year, the bloodiest period since the fall of the Taliban.

Early today, two civilians and two suicide bombers were killed in a car bomb in Kabul in an attempt to assassinate a former president, Sibghatuallh Mojadidi, who is seeking to encourage Taliban defections.

Mojadidi survived the attack but suffered some burns on his hands. He accused neighbouring Pakistan's intelligence service of being behind the attack.

Pakistan denied Mojadidi's charges.

A top military commander for the Taliban, Mullah Dadullah, said Taliban fighters were behind the assassination attempt.

Reuters KD DB2239

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