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Eight American civilians killed in Afghanistan

KABUL — Separate bomb explosions Wednesday in Afghanistan's volatile east and south killed eight Americans and five troops and a journalist from Canada, U.S. and NATO officials said.

A suicide attacker detonated explosives at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province near the Afghan border with Pakistan, killing eight American civilians and wounding others, U.S. officials in Washington said.

"We mourn the loss of life in this attack, and are withholding further details pending notification of next of kin," U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

An attacker wearing a suicide vest caused the explosion, according to a senior U.S. official in Washington.

Team of women reach South Pole

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Seven women on a 562-mile Antarctic ski trek reached the South Pole today, 38 days after they began their adventure to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Commonwealth.

"I'm incredibly proud of the team and I think... if we can do this then you can do anything that you like to and that's the message that we really want to send to everyone," team leader Felicity Aston said in a message from South Pole today.

Skiing six to 10 hours a day, the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition trekked an average of 15 miles a day, each hauling a 176-pound sled of provisions and shelter to reach the United States-operated Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station science base.

2009 deadly year for journalists, group says

BRUSSELS — This year has been one of the worst on record for the deliberate killing of reporters and media staff, an international journalists' association said Thursday.

A total of 137 journalists and media personnel were killed in 2009, according to the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists.

It said 113 were singled out because of their profession and 24 died accidentally.

The 113 "targeted killings" tally was one of the highest ever recorded, said the federation. It listed the Philippines, Mexico and Somalia as the most dangerous countries for journalists this year.

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