Three U.S. service members were killed on Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials said, hours after a rogue Afghan soldier killed another U.S. service member.
United States Forces - Afghanistan (USFOR-A) said three of its service members were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Afghanistan's east. Pending notification of next-of-kin, the force did not release other details about the incident, including the exact location.
Meanwhile, USFOR-A confirmed another U.S. service member was killed on late Wednesday evening when an individual wearing an Afghan National Army (ANA) uniform turned his weapon against coalition service members in southern Afghanistan. "The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire," the force said.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released the identities of two U.S. soldiers who died in Afghanistan earlier this week.
DoD said 22-year-old Specialist Manuel J. Vasquez, of West Sacramento, California, died in Afghanistan's eastern province of Paktika on Tuesday. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade at Grafenwoehr in Germany. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Vasquez died as a result of a non-battle related injury.
U.S. officials also confirmed 21-year-old Specialist Benjamin H. Neal, of Orfordville, Wisconsin, was killed in Kandahar province on Wednesday when insurgents attacked his unit with an IED. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
The deaths on Thursday and Wednesday raise the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 128, most of them American and British service members, according to official figures. A U.S. Marine and two U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday as a result of two separate IED attacks in Afghanistan.
A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country's south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.
There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers. U.S. President Barack Obama previously ordered a drawdown of 23,000 U.S. troops later this year, and foreign combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.