Three attacks kill six NATO troops in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Six NATO service members were killed in three separate attacks across Afghanistan on Wednesday, military officials said, including a roadside bombing in the violent south that killed four troops.

The other two deaths occurred in a separate explosion in the south and an attack in the east, the Western military said.

With more than two months to go, 2010 has already been the most lethal of the conflict for Western forces in Afghanistan. In August, U.S. troop deaths hit their highest levels of the war, which entered its 10th year this month.

Better mine-resistant military vehicles have helped reduce death and injury tolls from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, but occasionally, a single catastrophic blast still claims multiple lives. Hidden bombs — crude devices most often planted by insurgents in roadbeds, but also in farm fields, dirt pathways and mud-brick compounds — remain the largest single killer of Western troops in Afghanistan.

The nationalities of the latest dead were not immediately disclosed, in keeping with the policy of NATO's International Security Assistance Force to refrain from providing details until next of kin are notified. In the country's south, Americans make up the largest troop contingent, followed by Britons and Canadians.

The number of American forces in Afghanistan now stands at about 100,000, making up roughly two-thirds of the international force. The bulk of U.S. troops are deployed in the country's south, where the insurgency is strongest, but significant numbers also serve in the east, near the border with Pakistan's tribal areas.

Recent fighting has been concentrated in the south, in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, but the insurgents have also pushed into areas that previously were relatively calm, including large swaths of the country's north.

Also Wednesday, Afghan authorities provided the nationalities of eight civilian contractors killed in the crash near the capital of a cargo plane operating under U.S. contract. Six were Filipino, one Indian and one Kenyan, the Afghan military said.

Pilots making the descent must negotiate high peaks ringing the city. Weather did not appear to have been a factor in the crash, officials said.