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Four US soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Four US soldiers have been killed and three wounded by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan. A second bomb hit a US embassy convoy near Kabul, injuring two officials - it is not clear whether US Ambassador Ronald Neumann was in the convoy.
Earlier on Sunday, a pro-government Islamic cleric was shot dead by suspected Taleban insurgents.
Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters have threatened to derail parliamentary elections due to be held in September.
In the attack on US troops, three soldiers were hurt while trying to pull the others out of their armoured vehicle which had been hit by the explosion.
They were later treated for shrapnel wounds at a nearby base, and were said to be in stable condition.
A US military statement said the unit "was conducting offensive operations in support of an ongoing mission to find and defeat enemy forces" at the time of the attack in Zabul province.
The mission aimed at creating a "safe environment" for the September elections, it added.
Two U.S. embassy officials were hurt by a roadside bomb that hit their convoy near the Afghan capital on Sunday, a spokesman said.
The blast near Kabul came hours after a bomb attack killed four U.S. soldiers in the restive Zabul province, in the southern part of the country.
"I can confirm that two American personnel of the U.S. embassy were slightly hurt while on a routine embassy mission," Michael Macy, a U.S. embassy spokesman, told Reuters.
He declined to identify the two and also refused to say if the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ronald Neumann, was in the convoy when the blast occurred.
An investigation was launched to find out who was behind the attack, he added.
Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said the incident occurred on a dirt road in Paghman, a resort area located some 20 km (12 miles) west of the capital.
Paghman is not regarded as an area where the ousted Taliban militants are active.
The blasts come amid rising attacks by a Taliban-led insurgency that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including 47 U.S. soldiers this year in Afghanistan, the bloodiest violence since U.S.-led troops overthrew the Islamist government in October 2001.
It also comes ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for September 18 which the militants have vowed to derail.
Taliban guerrillas claimed responsibility for Zabul's attack in which three other soldiers were wounded.
KABUL, Aug. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Four US soldiers were killed Sunday and three others injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, the US military said.
The unit was conducting offensive operations in support of an ongoing mission to find and defeat insurgents in the Deh Chopan area of Zabul province when the attack occurred, said the US military in a news release.
The unit's mission is part of a much larger operation to disrupt insurgents and to thereby provide a safe environment for upcoming September elections, it added.
The three were injured while trying to pull their fellow soldiers to safety, said the release. A number of secondary explosions, caused by a fire started by the IED blast, injured the three.
The three soldiers were evacuated to a nearby forward operating base for treatment of shrapnel wounds and are in stable condition.
"These soldiers were operating and fighting alongside Afghan National Security Forces," Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, Combined Joint Task Force-76 Commanding General, was quoted as saying.
"The enemy knows that he is at a race with time, a race that he will inevitably lose," Kamiya added.
Taliban, who vowed to derail the historic parliamentary election slated on Sept. 18, has intensified attacks against Afghan government and US troops. Over 800 people, including US and Afghan troops, insurgents and civilians were killed in the violence.